Cheesecake with Ricotta and Lemon zest (with Enjoy Life gluten-free gingerbread cookies)

From alfredo sauce to pancakes to cheesecake, ricotta and lemon zest are wonderful combinations for both savory and sweet dishes. Ricotta adds a fluffy texture to balance the density of cream cheese, while lemon zest can be a refreshing addition to any creamy desserts.

Enjoy Life’s gluten free gingerbread cookies is a great substitute for graham cracker crust. This cheesecake was a huge hit at our board game night!

Inspired by Jenn Segal’s Once Upon a Chef


For the crust:

  • 1 6-ounce box Enjoy Life gluten free gingerbread cookies, finely crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 egg

For the filling:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 32-ounce container (about 4 cups) whole milk ricotta
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon Orange liqueur (optional)

Optional toppings:

  • Crushed pecan, fudge, caramel, or fresh berries


Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a springform cake pan.

For crust: mix the finely crumbled gingerbread cookies with melted butter, and egg. Spread into the pan, and press firmly to make a crust. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes until the crust is slightly darker. Let it cool.

For filling: mix cream cheese, sugar, salt and ricotta for 3 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time until all mixed, then add vanilla extract, cornstarch, lemon zest and orange liqueur, if using.

Pour the filling into the crust. Bake the cheesecake for about 50 minutes, until the top is lightly golden, and the center is slightly jiggly but not totally liquid. Let it cool for at least 4 hours.

Serve with topping if desired.

Roasted Carrots with Cumin and Mint

This is a great snack by itself, or can be served as a side dish. Some recipes serve these with plain yogurt seasoned with lime juice, zest, and mint chutney. I went with mashed potatoes and braised chicken. They are delicious!


  • 10 medium carrots, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Lime zest (optional)


Heat the oven at 400F.

Cut the carrots in half lengthwise and crosswise. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme leaves, cumin seeds, coriander powder, and turmeric.

Roast for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with mint and lime zest. Enjoy!

Reterritorizing Rice Vermicelli

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Traditional Chinese cuisine can be categorized into four types: northern, southern, eastern, and western. Eastern and southern, unlike their counterpart northern and western, contributed greatly to China’s rice culture and economy. While northerners rely on wheat, millet, and corn as their staple food, southerners cultivated rice heavily.

I was introduced to rice noodles as a side dish, because I grew up with wheat noodles for meals. I never used to make Jia Jiang Myeon or Da Lu Mian with rice noodles, and I would never thought that someday my diet would expand to include using rice flour, tapioca starch, and other wonderful ingredients to make a blend of gluten-free flour. but hey, over the years in California, I’ve also come to appreciate the love behind making Californian Asian fusion cuisine!

My point is, there is no set ways to prepare any dishes, culture is fluid, so are the recipes!

With that thought, I leave you with this affordable and fantastic tasting Jiangxi rice noodles. May you go on to make many happy meals using experimental ingredients, and best of all, the noodles were only 89 cents!

To cook the Jiangxi rice noodles, heat 8 cups of water, cook the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes or until soft. drain and rinse in cold water. The rice noodles can be cooked 1 to 2 hours ahead of meal time. To prevent rice noodles from clumping, rinse with more cold water before use.

Gluten-Free Japanese Curry

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Wow, did you know that curry was carried eastward from India to Burma, Thailand, and China by Buddhist monks, and carried southwards to Indonesia and the Philippines by coastal traders? In many ways, curry is a global spice. Today, from India to Thailand to Japan and Germany, the use of curry permeates through different cultures, spreads across national borders, and every culture prides itself on preparing curry dishes with their own unique style.


With my love for curry, I was disappointed to find that most pre-made Japanese curry sauces use wheat as a large part of the ingredients. I decided to make this curry from scratch using S&B Oriental Curry Powder. The result was fantastic! Sweet and slightly spicy. This easy-to-make recipe is a must-try!

Serves 4
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, grated
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons S&B Japanese curry powder
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 small ripe nectarine or peach, chopped
  • tablespoon seedless fruit jam or chutney (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate bars, or 4 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
  • Salt and pepper to season

Heat the oil in a large pot, over low heat, add in garlic and ginger, fry until golden not browned. Add in onions and fry for 5 minutes, mix in the curry powder and stir for 3 minutes.

Add vegetable stock, carrots, potato, nectarine, fruit jam if using, tomato paste, and chocolate bars. Bring to a boil, and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are soft. Stir in the corn starch mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot over rice. enjoy!

Gluten-Free Dim Sum Wrappers (Dumpling Dough)

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The key to make gluten-free dumpling wrappers is using boiling water. I’ve failed so many times prior to discovering this secret ingredient. Now the mystery is solved, I want to share this amazing recipe with everyone who would like to make their own dim sum and be creative with the fillings.

Makes about 30 Dumpling Wrappers

  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup glutenous rice flour to dust

Mix tapioca starch and white rice flour in a large bowl, pour in boiling water, and mix the dough until all flours are incorporated. At this point, the dough will be very sticky, and unable to be worked by hand.

When the dough is cooled enough to handle, mix in 1/4 cup of glutenous rice flour at a time, knead the dough by hand, until the surface is smooth and malleable. Add more glutenous rice flour if needed.

Roll the dough out into a long strip, cut into 1-inch pieces. Roll out each piece evenly with a pin on a lightly floured surface.

Now you can add your favorite fillings, steam or pan fry these delicious gluten-free dumplings!

Gluten-Free Flour Blends

All-Purpose Flour Blend

Adapted from Art of Gluten-Free Cooking:

  • 1 1/4 cups white rice flour
  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 cup sweet rice (glutenous rice) flour

Whisk all ingredients together well. Store in an airtight container. Add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour called for in the recipe.

High Fiber Flour Blend

This blend works well for bread and other recipes where you want a nutritious flour bend with extra fiber

  • 2 cups superfine brown rice flour
  • 2 cups sweet white sorghum flour
  • 1 1/3 cups tapioca starch
  • 2/3 cup potato starch (not potato flour)

Whisk all ingredients together well. Store in an airtight container. Add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour called for in the recipe.

High Protein Flour Blend

This blend works well for pie crust and other baked goods. However, I found that some people do not like the flavor of bean flour in their baked good. When in doubt, I defer to the all-purpose flour blend.

  • 2 1/4 cups chickpea flour
  • 2 cups superfine brown rice flour
  • 2 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 2 cups tapioca starch

Whisk all ingredients together well. Store in an airtight container. Add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour called for in the recipe.

Da Lu Mian (Noodles with Egg-Flower Gravey)

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This is a traditional northern Chinese dish, and it is usually served on birthdays – as the noodles signify longevity, and the gravy “thickens” and “bonds” family together. This dish is highly versatile, in addition to onions and wood ear, you can add canned bamboo shoots, leafy vegetables, and mushrooms!

Serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 lb pork, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon wine
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup wood ear, soaked in hot water and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 package rice vermicelli, cooked and drained
  • 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • cilantro leaves to garnish

Marinade shredded pork in corn starch and cooking wine for 5 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil, fry the pork on medium heat until cooked, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon oil, fry the onions for 3 minutes, add in sliced wood ear and cook for another 5 minutes, mix in shredded pork. Add soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chicken broth or water, ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil, and simmer the pot for 10 minutes.

Mix in the corn starch mixture, stir to thicken the sauce. slowly pour in the egg over low heat. let it summer for another minute. turn off the heat and close the lid, let residual heat to cook the egg flower.

Serve with cucumber and cilantro leaves. Enjoy!

Jia Jiang Myeon (Black Bean Noodles)

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Zha Jiang Mian is a traditional Chinese noodle dish consisting of noodles topped with stir fried pork and fermented sweet soybean sauce. Zha Jiang Mian is one of my favorite noodle dishes! But it was always a little too salty for my taste, until I discovered the Korean version! I love to veggie up my dish, and this recipe gives a perfect balance among vegetables, starch, and protein.

Serves 4

  • 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cups of onion chunks
  • 1 cup of daikon or 1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup of potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup of zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free black bean paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch, dissolved in 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks for garnish
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (optional)
  • 1 package gluten-free rice vermicelli, cooked and drained

Heat 1 tablespoon oil, cook the ground pork. Set aside.

Heat up rest of the oil, cook the onion for 2 minutes, toss in the daikon or eggplant, the potatoes, and the zucchini for additional 2 minutes, add in the gluten-free black bean sauce, stir for 3 minutes, mix in the pork.

Add 2 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Thicken the sauce with the corn starch mixture, drizzle the sesame oil, and turn off the heat.

Serve 1/2 cup of sauce on top of rice vermicelli, topped with shredded cucumber and cilantro. Enjoy!

Seafood and Veggie Roll

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This delicious roll is light and healthy, and it is very easy to make. We love to double the recipe, because they make a great no-mess lunch on the next day! If preparing to make extra, store the Spicy Crab/Scallops Salad separately.

Serves 10 rolls

To Prepare the Rice:

2 cups cooked rice

1 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar

1 ½ tablespoons Sake, or dry sherry

1 teaspoon sugar

Mix in all ingredients for rice, keep it chilled in the fridge.

To Prepare the Fillings:

2 carrots, cut into long and thin strips

3 tablespoons butter

2 zucchini, cut into long and thin strips

3 eggs

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon corn starch

1 avocado, thinly sliced

Blanch the carrot strips; fry zucchini strips in butter until browned and softened, about 4 minutes per side; mix the eggs with sugar and corn starch, set aside.

For the Wrap:

1 10-sheet package Sushi Nori Seaweed Sheets

Pick up one sheet of nori, shiny side down. Moisten your hands. Spread quarter cup of rice thinly on the nori sheet, leave 1/2 inch nori open at the top for sealing (do not press hard or your will break the sheet.) Pour 1/4 cup of egg mixture in a hot greased omelette pan, flip once, lay cooked egg sheet over rice. Put the filling (zucchini, carrots, avocado if using) in the center of the egg sheet, roll the nori over the filling, and seal the end, set it on sealed side down. Cut the roll 1/2-inch thick. Place the spicy crab/scallops salad on top, and broil in 375 for 10 minutes, or until top is browned. Enjoy!

Spicy Crab/Scallops Salad Toppings:

8 ounces imitation crab or cooked scallops

2 tablespoons mayo

1 teaspoon Sariacha

2 scallions, thinly sliced

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Combine all delicious ingredients together. Yumm! This salad can either serve on top of the roll or on side.

Kung Pao Chicken


Kung Pao Chicken is a classic Chinese dish, but it can be prepared in multiple ways depending on the region in China. My favorite is the Sichuan style with hot pepper oil. You can control the spicy level and make it perfectly suitable to your taste buds.

Serves 4


  • 4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, separated
  • 1 pound chicken meat, dark or light, cubed into 1-inch nugget
  • 8 to 10 dried red chilis, break 2 to let hot oil absorb the capsaicin
  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts


  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons gluten free hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper (optional)

Mix all ingredients in the sauce, set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil, cook the chicken in a fry pan, 4 minutes per side, transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, fry the dried red chilis on low heat for 5 minutes, or until the chiles and the seeds are browned, add in the zucchini and red bell pepper, toss for 5 minutes. Add in chicken meat.

Add the sauce to the meat mixture. turn off the heat. Toss in scallions and roasted peanuts. Serve hot.