Kale Pesto


Kale, kale, kale.

Okay we get it. It’s good for us. We should be eating more of it. It’s high in fiber, packed with vitamin A and C and has more calcium than a container of milk. It’s also, also, ZZzzzzzzzz.

Let’s just cut to the chase: An easy kale recipe to make THIS WEEK, even if you don’t think you like kale.

The basil, garlic and Parm, keep the pesto true to its name. I use it on everything: on top of cheese ravioli… as a spread for crusty French bread… drizzled into squash soup.

Here’s something else: it’s completely nut-free and gluten-free. There’s a reason why kale is the current media darling: It’s good for you. See that? I just hopped on the bandwagon. And, you know, I hate bandwagons.

Plated + Served: Hot-To-Trot Gluten-Free Brownies


Okay, I know this is probably too late for tomorrow, but I got busy today

If you wanna generate some heat on Valentine’s Day, these homemade Brownies are just the ticket.

So easy to make… I’ve just added cayenne pepper and cinnamon to a basic Brownie recipe. They almost taste like a mole poblano—that rich dark red Mexican sauce made with chilies, chocolate, nuts and seeds.

Trust me on this one.

I made the Brownies in my new fave silicone kitchen item, Silpat’s Entremet non-stick silicone baking pan. One caveat with the Silpat: Make sure you let the cooked brownies cool in the pan for 30 minutes. That way, when you flip them on the cutting board to cut, they won’t stick. You can also use your favorite 9-by-9-inch pan.

I goosed the brownie recipe on the back of the Silpat box by using gluten-free flour, adding spices and omitting the nuts.

Spice up your Valentines Day a little bit… some sweet, some heat… the rest is up to you!

Hot Brownies






Plated + Served: Dream Cookie Bars


Sis had a bake sale at school, so guess who got stuck making the cookies?


Sis made ‘em because she knows this is one recipe that will turn out perfectly (when it comes to anything having to do with the kitchen, well, let’s just say Sistie is a great singer).

Anyway, she wanted to make something extra special, so she pulled a “Mama” and cleaned the pantry of all the leftover sweet add-ins that have been hanging out since Easter and Valentines Day.

The standard recipe for Magic Cookie Bars calls for a graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Well, Sis is nut free… so she dug around and found a whole bunch of other things that work just as well. She also gave them a new name, “Dream Cookie Bars,” since she took some liberties with the original recipe.

Exit Nuts! Enter butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, Kraft Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits and Mini Milk Chocolate Chips. Oh, and she used non-fat sweetened condensed milk… like that’ll make much of a difference on the calorie front.

This was the first real cookie recipe Aba taught me (not counting, of course, the Pillsbury Slice and Bake Sugar Cookies… sheesh). I hate throwing Aba under the bus, but when I was little I thought she was such a great baker because she could make these cookies… which had so many ingredients and seemed so complicated but always tasted so delicious.

Little did I know that years later I’d be passing the same recipe on to my own daughter… there’s something comforting and, obviously, sweet about that thought.


Kraft Jet-Puffed Mallow Bits




I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com