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Home Cooking with Shirley Braden

Home Cooking is a regular feature on The Front Burner that offers a peek at how home cooks around the Fredericksburg area work in their kitchens. If you’d like to answer our questionnaire, download it here and return your responses to with a digital photo of yourself, or pass it along to anyone you think would like to participate.

Name: Shirley Braden

Tell us who you are and why you cook.

I cook for many reasons. I’m a wife, a mom (albeit an empty-nester), a daughter, a friend, a gluten-free support group leader, food blogger, and someone who enjoys cooking, especially baking.

Describe your cooking style in three words.

Quick, easy and gluten-free.

Favorite cookbook?

Oh, this sounds bad, but my website, Gluten Free Easily, is the one I go to most often, pulling up my own recipes that I’ve adapted from numerous sources. Otherwise, I read tons of food blogs, many of them written by personal friends, and I’m always looking for fresh ideas in newspapers and magazines.

What is one dish on your menu this week that you’re excited about?

Chicken tortilla soup. It meets my quick, easy and gluten-free cooking style, plus it’s delicious and perfect for our current weather!

What is one thing that must be in your pantry at all times?

Ooh, tough one. … It’s a toss-up between chocolate in the form of cocoa or chocolate chips and chickpeas. I love chickpeas, especially roasted chickpeas. Just a little olive oil, salt, spicy seasoning, like cayenne pepper, are all that’s needed to make me happy. I’ve even made a flour-less chocolate cake using chickpeas before. It was delicious and much healthier for you than most chocolate cakes.

What one kitchen gadget could you not live without?

I’m a firm believer that one does not have to have a lot of kitchen gadgets to cook well. I put my mini-chopper to good use, even using it to grind cashews enough to make cashew nut butter.

It’s 6 p.m., the people in your household are hungry and you just walked in from work and need to get something satisfying on the table as soon as possible. What’s your favorite thing to whip up in this situation?

A tuna melt. These are one of my husband’s favorite sandwiches, so not only is it quick and easy, but it’s also a treat. I eat mine with no bread, or occasionally use a leftover gluten-free popover to serve as my bread.

It’s a snowy Sunday, you’ve just done the grocery shopping and have the rest of the day to spend in the kitchen cooking a meal that will bring comfort. What’s for dinner?

Definitely soup. I have a soup I call my Everything Soup. I keep one or more freezer containers of leftover broth, veggies, and meat (each container looks like a cross-cut section of an archaeological dig with all the layers and different “materials”) and I save roast chicken carcasses. I start by making homemade stock using the chicken carcass, water and some apple cider vinegar to pull out the calcium from the chicken bones. After I let the pot simmer for a while, I pour the contents through a colander into another soup pot. I put the stock back on the burner and extract the chicken and de-bone it, saving all the meat. (A chicken carcass will yield a lot of meat!) I add veggies to the stock to simmer in order of cooking time from longest to least, adding seasonings and the chicken toward the end. The soup never comes out the same, but it’s always similar in taste and comfort, and very nourishing.

What is your favorite dish to make for pot-luck dinners?

Garlic lime chicken is a very easy dish to make that everyone enjoys. It’s actually a recipe from Leanne Ely, the creator of Saving Dinner, a menu mailer site.

Do you have a favorite food source in the Fredericksburg region?

My shopping options are fairly limited where I am located. I’m often away on weekends, but when I’m home on Saturdays, I love to visit our award-winning King George Farmers’ Market to pick up greens, squash, fresh flowers, seafood and more. It’s a fresh and fun experience and adds much to my cooking, baking and green smoothies.


  • Tia @ Glugle Gluten-Free

    What a lovely interview with Shirley. She is such a treat. I have tried several of her recipes all ready and can’t wait to try more. Her pies are fabulous and so easy to prepare. The crustless versions are amazing.

    Thanks for the interview. I hope you can do another one with her. There is so much she has to share.

  • Stephanie – Wasabimon

    Can I just say how much I love Shirley’s blog? Being of the gluten-free persuasion myself, she’s got some of my very favorite recipes on her site!

  • Wendy @ Celiacs in the House

    Shirley is such a great resource for those of us in the gluten-free community. Thank you helping spread the word and letting her share her naturally gluten-free philosophy. I hope we’ll see more of Shirley and her gluten-free recipes.

  • Kim-Cook It Allergy Free

    Shirley has really been a leader and an amazing resource for all of us in the gluten free community. I love this interview! SO glad you featured her here!! I love her GFE (gluten free easily) philosophy!

  • Alisa Fleming

    My husband loves chicken tortilla soup, and I haven’t made it in ages! That one is going on the menu.

    A flourless chickpea cake … simply amazing!

  • Debi

    Shirley is simply amazing and I’m so glad I found her blog last year. Her site is one of my go to sites for recipes (my husband licked his bowl clean when I made her pot pie). Her flourless peanut butter cookies…just like the ones with flour only healthier! All that aside, Shirley is a wonderful friend and support. Everyone who knows her is blessed with having her there to cheer them on!

  • glutenfreeforgood

    Wow, nothing sounds better than home cooking with Shirley Braden! I loved this interview and know that Shirley’s approach to cooking is indeed gluten-free easily. Whether you have to avoid gluten or not doesn’t matter. Her cooking philosophy and recipes work for everyone.

  • Carol, Simply…Gluten-free

    What a great interview. I have been a long time fan of Shirley through her blog Gluten Free Easily. Although Shirley’s recipe are gluten free this does not mean they are only for people who are gluten free, her dishes are delicious and anyone will enjoy them. Thanks for interviewing this wonderful person!

  • Diane-thewholegang

    What a wonderful interview with a wonderful person. Shirley does so much for the gluten free community. I love how she shares great recipes that are easy and don’t stress you out in the kitchen. That’s just the way you should cook, gluten free or not. I love her roasted chickpeas too!

  • Katie Chalmers

    What a great choice of a special person to interview…..I always love to hear Shirley in her own words….she seems like the most generous, warmest person in the gluten-free online community. I am a big fan of her website & her philosophy and she has turned me & my daughters on to her roasted chickpeas as well! Thanks for sharing this feature…(love the questions as well!)

  • Hajo

    Awesome, thanks a lot for this wonderful interview. It’s very inspiring to listen to her because she is one of the best examples that gluten-free cooking does not have to be taste-free or boring!

  • Gluten Free Diva

    When I learn that Shirley has a new blog post, I grab a cup of tea and prepare to sit down and read what she’s written, always with great enthusiasm. I very much look forward to her posts. She is one of the most knowledgeable and amazingly supportive blogger let alone person that I’ve ever met! And her recipes are go-to recipes – always spot on. I think that Shirley’s work with her support group really helps her keep her finger on the pulse of what gluten free folks are looking for. In plain English, Shirley rocks!

  • Heidi @ Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom

    Shirley ROCKS! I refer everyone I meet who is new to the gluten-free diet to her blog, she is a wealth of information and her delicious recipes have been a lifesaver to me and my family. Gluten Free Easily is without a doubt the best way to go.

  • Sea

    What a great interview with Shirley! I don’t know about anybody else, but this article makes me hungry. Trying to remember if I have chickpeas in the house…. Anyway, I first met Shirley at a food blogger’s convention and I’ve always been impressed by what a warm, friendly ambassador she is for the gluten-free lifestyle. Definitely a perfect person to help someone navigate the early days of being gluten-free, and she is inspiring even old timer gluten-free folks like me. I think it is so important to have gluten-free support groups in the community and Shirley is a wonderful example for us all.


  • Nancy @SensitivePantry

    I love this because Shirley is so practical–and creates delicious GF foods. That’s really what it’s all about. She takes the mystery (and scariness) right out of GF cooking and shares with the GF world what many of us already know–you don’t have to feel deprived or expect to have to cook elaborate meals once you’ve gone gluten-free. And, Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of my new favorites. It is perfect for a cold winter evening.

  • Stephanie O’Dea

    Shirley is as real as they come—
    great feature, and fantastic interview.

  • Alexa

    Shirley, sure enjoyed the snapshot of your everyday cooking and eating. I will put some of your recipes and tips to use for sure!

    Thanks so much!

  • Shirley @ gfe

    Thanks so very much to you all for your very generous comments! Our gluten-free community is growing and everyone can enjoy and appreciate real food that’s naturally gluten free and good for us, right? Thanks to you all for fulfilling vital roles in gf awareness and happy gf cooking to you!

    Emily, thanks again to you, FLS, and The Front Burner for hosting this series! We always can learn from others and different cooking methods, approaches, and recipes happens to be my favorite way to learn. :-)


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  • Lisa

    So nice to see this interview with Shirley! She’s a great person all around!

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