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Follow a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free diet? Check out my recently released cookbook








Google+ Moms are Hip

Alright, so being a Google+'er may not propel me to "hip"ness, but by golly, today I'm feeling mighty hip.

Last month if you'd asked me what Google+ was, I'd say "no clue."

Today is a different story. Recently, I was fortunate to be schooled on this thing called Google+ — from a Google "insider" no less. It was kind of like being invited to the popular girl's house to play after school and she let you use her make-up ... and it was the coolest day ever (because at 11 your mom still didn't let you wear make-up, much less shave your legs)!

Anyway, Ms. Google as I fondly refer to her, threw buckets of techie words at me as she explained Google+. Today I am going to attempt to share what she shared—and offer my take on Google+.

What is Google+?

Google+ has been referred to as a social networking service. I'm kinda seein' it as a rockin' "interests" forum—an interactive venue where voices may be shared and heard. It launched in the summer of 2011. You could say it's kind of like Facebook—but offers more functionality and is significantly more robust.

You ask how it compares to Facebook or Twitter? Think of it this way:

  • Facebook is for checking in and keeping up with, friends and family.
  • Twitter is for surface interaction, quick updates.
  • Google+ is for people who share the same interests. It is interest-based. It's about finding new people and them finding you based on your interests.

How Does it Work?

Before we dive in, having some basic Google+ lingo down helps. Words you should know:

POSTS: You have a stream of "posts" just like you do in Facebook.

YOUR CIRCLES: With Facebook, you have "friends." With Google+ you have "your circles".

CIRCLING: In Facebook you "follow" someone. In Google+ you add them to a "your circles."  Circles are all about organizing the people you "follow" and "share" with by interests (for example; gardening, photography, cooking, etc). When you have something to share, you select the circles you want that "post" to feed to—perhaps all of your circles or just one in particular. It's targeted communication made easy!

ADD YOU BACK: When you "circle" someone, they will be notified. And if they are interested in what you're all about, they'll likely "Add You Back"—meaning they want to see your stuff, too. 

+1: If you like someone's post, you can "like" it by hitting "+1".

PING: If you're looking for a fast, easy way to start communicating live with your contacts, you can "Ping" them. Much like instant messaging. 

HANGOUT: And then there are the Hangouts—super coolness! Think video chatting like Skype, iChat, Facetime—but conveniently located right there in your Google+ window. You can Hangout with one or multiple people at a time. It may be kept private or go live with an "Air" broadcast (streamed live and then uploaded to YouTube).

What Stuff Do They See? What Stuff Do I See?

If you are out there posting, only the Circles you select your post to post to will be able to view it in their stream. For example, I know my gardening friends are not interested in photography so I'll leave that circle out when posting about macro lenses. But if I have some real cool content to share that would interest everyone, I simply click "Everyone."

Like with Twitter, you can "follow" or "circle" anyone you want. Whether you see posts from them depends on which circles they are posting to. Oh ... and you can post to a single person—much like "messaging" someone in Facebook—but it shows up in their stream rather than in a dedicated message window. This is where you want to take care. You don't want inadvertently send a private message to your public circles. Read more of my thoughts on privacy below.

What Makes it Robust?

The cool features I've discovered in Google+ are:

LOCAL: Click this button and you can find and rate local business. This could become a powerhouse of a tool for those of us on special diets. The more restaurants we review, the more help we can be to our little community. 

EXPLORE: See what's hot on Google+ by hitting the "Explore" button. You can then search by word or topic (such as "dairy-free" or whatever it is you are interested in exploring).

EVENTS: Create an invitation to an event (or dinner party or baby shower). Share photos from the event instantly in "Party Mode." Upload everyone's photos in one place after the event. 

HANGOUTS: These video chats allow us to communicate easily with our family 7,000 miles away—for free. AND it will allow me to communicate with Lexie's Kitchen readers via broadcasted Hangouts.

I recently hungout with Anne-Marie of This Mamma Cooks on a Diet. (She was a delight, and yeah, I look TOTALLY confused in the beginning ... I was still getting the hang of it ... it gets a little better, promise. And oh, how Ann Curry makes interviews look so easy!)

How I Plan to Use Google+.

I tend to be a private person. I rarely, if ever, broadcast sensitive and private matters over social media. That said, I like the way I can keep up with close friends and family with Facebook, but I've found it a little limiting when it comes to following communities that share my interests. This is the gap I think Google+ will neatly fill.  I believe it is a great public forum for exchanging ideas and following the "voices" of people, businesses, and bloggers that interest you.

If you have an audio/video-equipped computer, I think you will definitely enjoy the Hangout. Hangouts are private unless you click the Hangout Air feature which will then broadcast your Hangout on to your Google+ stream and then upload it to YouTube (so use with care!). Great for business. Not great for chatting with your girlfriends about the family that just moved in next door.

Get in There and Play.

The best way to get acquainted with Google+ is to get in there and play. I still have a lot to learn. Want to jump in? Head over to the Google+ homepage and create an account with your Gmail or Google log in.

And don't forget to "circle me", Lexie Croft, so that we can connect. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Tutorial and Sample Hangouts.

I will leave you with a few videos to further illustrate what Google+ is all about. I hope this has been a tad bit helpful.



Crabapple Jelly Recipe

This post is linked to Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Gluten Free Fridays.

I am in love with this lower-glycemic crabapple jelly.

Last week the boys, my brave friend Hannah, and I did some raiding or—rather—foraging at dusk of a loaded crabapple tree down by the kids' school.

[Yes, you can eat crabapples]

We just had to do it. The fruit these trees put out is exceptional. They are palatable green-apple-tart (not all crabapples are so always sample the fruit) and were there for the taking—and for the making_of crabapple jelly.

Fresh piced crabapples. Fresh pressed crabapple juice.

I ended up doing it a little differently. For this jelly I used a reduced measure of coconut sugar. The result was a darker, tart, mildly sweet jelly that I can't get enough of. It reminds me of the guava jelly my mom makes. So good!

Thank you dear Laurel V. for digging out your Pre-WWI worn and tattered copy of The Settlement Cook Book 1903 which inspired this jelly makin' project. I ended up ordering the cookbook and found it quite entertaining and useful.

A smear of Earth Balance buttery spread and crabapple jelly atop our favorite Food for Life yeast-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free and vegan bread.



3/4 cup COCONUT SUGAR or other granulated sugar
2 tablespoons PECTIN


  1. Using a juicer, juice enough crabapples (about 1-1/4 pound?) to yield 1-1/2 cups crabapple juice.
  2. Add juice to a medium pot. Gradually stir in pectin.
  3. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat.
  4. Stiring constantly, add coconut sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  5. Return to full rolling boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  6. Remove from heat. Skim off foam if necessary.
  7. Transfer to glass jar and refrigerate.


Mind you, this is my way of doing it (I used pure juice, no addition of water). If you want to go with the experts, here's a fantastic Pectin Calculator for making jams and jellies.


Lexie's Kitchen 5-Minute Hangout - Episode 1

A big thanks to Alisa Flemming, author of the Go Dairy Free guide and cookbook, the informational website Go Dairy Free, and the recipe blog Alisa Cooks. She joined me today for a Lexie's Kitchen 5-Minute Google+ Hangout (though it ran more like 10 minutes). I look forward to broadcasting more Hangouts like these—gotta love Google Hangout!

To watch future broadcasts stream live, join me over at Google+. All you have to do is Circle me here. If you miss live broadcasts, know that you can find them right here at Lexie's Kitchen (or on YouTube).

Want to know what Google+ is all about. Stay tuned. I am working on a post that explains it in my simple words (ha ha!).


Note: In this Hangout I mention Penzey's Buttermilk Ranch dressing. It dawned on me "what am I thinking, we just had a discussion on DAIRY-FREE and here I go mentioning BUTTERMILK! Agggh. What am I thinking?" But it's all cool. The Penzey's Buttermilk Ranch Dressing spice blend is just that— a spice blend. What you add it to is up to you. I mix it into a mixture of non-dairy (unsweetened) yogurt, non-dairy milk and a squeeze of lemon juice. Okay. Cleared that one up. Phew!!


Spicy Vegetable Juice

Aren't those the prettiest heirloom cherry tomatoes ya ever did see?

Back in January I picked up a Braun juicer at a local thrift shop. Here's a picture of the bad boy. He's older. But I'm cool with that. He gets the job done and personally, I love his avocado green accents.

As I do with many of my thrift shop finds (like that hand-crank meat grinder), I put Mr. Braun away for a rainy day.

One such rainy day in June it was time. Time to give this beast (actually, he's nice and compact) a run for his money (I dropped a whopping $9 for him). And well, the timing couldn't have been better. Farmers markets were in full swing, brimming with fresh produce for my experimentation.

Over the course of the summer, Mr. Braun and I have fallen in love. And below is the juice "recipe" that sealed the deal.

If you've been considering a juicer, check your local thrift shops or Craigslist. I was able to give juicing a try without breaking the bank. In time I may fork out more for a higher-end machine, but for now Mr. Braun's serving me well. 

I recently polled Lexie's Kitchen Facebook followers about the best juicers on the market. Lot's of good info (thanks everyone!). To view the recommendations, please visit my Facebook page and scroll to August 2012. And if anyone knows how to link to Facebook threads, let me know : )

Spicy Vegetable Juice


2 large CARROT
2 stalks CELERY
1-2 large TOMATOES
1/2 medium CUCUMBER
1/2 medium BEET
1/2 green BELL PEPPER
1/2 lemon
1/4 small ONION
Handful CHARD (or other green)
3/4 teaspoon HOT SAUCE (used Cholulas)
1/4 teaspoon SEA SALT


Juice in juicer.

Serves 2-4.


And wait 'till you see my next post. I'm juicing something rather out of the ordinary and I will share with you what I made. I know, the suspense is just killing you. Ha!

Got a favorite juice recipe? Leave it in the comments, I need more inspiration.



New Magazine Launching in November!


A new magazine is about to hit a magazine rack near you (or your mailbox or inbox)

The Simply Gluten Free magazine is a revolutionary idea whose time has come!

Carol Kicinski, author of the blog Simply Gluten-Free, has pulled together the internet’s top allergen free bloggers to create a beautiful, lifestyle magazine for people with food sensitivities by people with food sensitivities. These are the people who are not just writing about food sensitivities, they are people who are successfully living allergen free lifestyles every day.

Rather than focusing on deprivation, Simply Gluten Free magazine will celebrate the abundance of a gluten and allergen free life. It will provide simple, beautiful solutions to the challenges you face.

Simply Gluten Free will be an aesthetic, high-quality print magazine with a fully digital version, issued bi-monthly which the readership will want to collect and savor throughout the years.

While food and recipes will always remain at the core of the magazine, it will also cover such topics as: 

  • Beauty
  • Medical and Nutrition
  • DIY (Do It Yourself) and Crafts
  • Fitness
  • Homekeeping
  • Entertaining
  • Travel
  • Eating Out
  • Special Needs and Special Diets. 

In the Beyond Gluten Free section you will find mouthwatering, innovative and simple recipes for diets such as Paleo, Dairy Free, Vegetarian, Sugar Free and Vegan.

With an age range of writers that spans four decades, it will move across the age spectrum to include viable solutions from infancy and childhood to teen, college student, and young adult, to issues faced later in life as it is determined to leave no one out.

Expanding on the success of her bestselling cookbooks, monthly television cooking episodes on Daytime TV and popular gluten free blog, Carol Kicinski has teamed up with veteran blogger, magazine editor, freelance writer and mother of two celiac children, Wendy Gregory Kaho (Editor-in-Chief) and over twenty of the allergen free bloggers you already know and love to bring you fresh, innovative, relevant content and gorgeous photography in the magazine you have been waiting for. 

Order your copy now!