Living without gluten, casein, soy, eggs and peanuts. Living with ASD and ADHD. Life is good!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Prune Cake with Crumb Topping

Since moving to Tornado Alley, I have kept emergency supplies in one of the central closets of the house.  I go through them every spring, rotating nonperishables and batteries to keep them fresh.  Friends laugh at me, but it makes me feel better to be prepared for the "just in case".  Last week I did the annual rotation and came upon a tub of prunes.  I don't know what I was thinking, throwing prunes in with the emergency supplies.  Goodness knows the girls would not touch them even in case of  emergency.  So what do do with an excess of prunes?  Make prune cake, of course.  I modified Pioneer Woman's recipe here to be gluten free and vegan.  I topped it with a crumb topping and served it as coffeecake for breakfast.  It was delicious, so I promptly made some more.  We had prune cake for breakfast for two weeks in a row, and the girls are none the wiser.  In fact, they asked for more.  I've considered telling them exactly what it is but...I have concluded that what they don't know, they can't freak out over.  The subversive in me just loves being a mom.

 (This piece was made with a sorghum based all-purpose flour blend, although a rice based one would work well too.)

Prune Cake
1 cup prunes
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. cider vinegar plus enough dairy-free milk to equal 1/2 cup

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend
3 tbsp. flax meal
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup dairy free, soy free margarine
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease one glass 8x11 inch baking dish with grapeseed oil, set aside.  

Prepare the crumb topping.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon with a fork until well blended.  Cut in the margarine until the mixture clumps together in the size of peas.  Set aside.

Put the prunes in a small saucepan and cover them with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 8 minutes, or until they are soft and mashable.  Drain and mash with a fork.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and grapeseed oil until smooth.   Add the applesauce and vanilla and stir to combine.  Add the cider vinegar milk and stir.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour through the cinnamon.  Pour the flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir to blend well.  Add the prunes and stir to combine.  Scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly into the pan.  Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the batter.  Place the baking dish in the oven and bake 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and cool before cutting into squares to serve.

(This piece is made with a multi-grain flour blend - this was my favorite.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blackberry Apple Upside Down Cake

Spring break is here!  And it actually feels like spring!  I'm so exited about being able to take a breather that over the weekend I took a nap.  I never slow down enough to take a nap.  Thus recharged, I've been knocking things off my list, one by one.  Spring break usually finds me cleaning out and organizing the garage, which sounds really boring, but it's very cathartic for me to get a grip on the clutter.  I have also made time to bake, which is creative catharsis.  Today's selection is Blackberry Apple Upside Down cake.  I love upside down cakes, they are simple enough for a weekday after dinner treat, or even a special breakfast treat.  This recipe originally comes from Cooking Light, modified to be gluten free and vegan, of course!

Blackberry Apple Upside Down Cake

2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
3 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 pint fresh blackberries, rinsed and patted dry
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour Blend (sorghum or rice)
1 tbsp. flax meal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper.  Spread 2 tbsp. coconut oil over the parchement paper and sprinkle with the brown sugar.  Top with blackberries and chopped apples, set aside.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour through the cinnamon, set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and 2 tbsp. coconut oil.  Add the applesauce, lemon juice and lemon extract until well blended.  Add the coconut milk and stir to combine.  Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir well.  Pour the batter over the blackberry topping, spreading to cover completely.

Bake the cake 35 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comesout clean.  Cool cake in the pan 5 minutes.  Loosen the edges of the cake with a knife.  Place a plate upside down on top of the cake pan, then flip  and invert the cake onto the plate.  Lift off the cake pan and peel off the parchment paper from the top of the cake.  Let cool completely before slicing into wedges to serve.

Monday, March 3, 2014

White Bean Soup with Kabocha Squash

Another winter storm, another day off school.  And so it goes.  It was 80 degrees on Saturday before it dropped to below freezing yesterday morning.  First the skies started spitting sleet, and then we got squalls of alternating heavy sleet and hail that made a lot of noise bouncing around outside.  We even got treated to some thunder sleet/hail.  In all, we got enough accumulation to cover the grass outside.  Of course the roads are all one sheet of ice.  Since yesterday afternoon, we have not heard any traffic on the roads, save for regular intervals of emergency sirens as they respond to accidents.  It is very quiet and very cold, the temperature dipping down to 15 degrees last night - a 60 degree swing from Saturday.  Our weather lately has been crazy, warm enough for shorts on the weekends and cold enough for wool during the week.  It's a wonder we are not all sick.

Thankfully I got all our shopping and errands done on Saturday, so yesterday I was in the kitchen cooking and baking all day.  On a cold day when you have the time and nowhere to be, this bean and squash soup really hits the spot.  Kabocha squash takes some time to prepare, but it is so worth it.  Its texture is a cross between pumpkin and sweet potato and its flavor is sweeter than both.  It tastes fabulous roasted all by itself but it is also great in any number of dishes, including curries, pilafs and soups.  Besides roasted plain as "fries", this soup is my favorite way to feature kabocha squash.  Serve this soup with Tomato Rosemary Muffins or French Bread for a hearty meal.

White Bean Soup with Kabocha Squash

1 pound dried white beans, soaked in cold water overnight
1 kabocha squash, 2 - 3 pounds
6 - 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried parsley or 1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tbsp. lemon juice, if desired

After soaking the dried beans overnight, drain and rinse.  Place in a large pot and cover with water by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, simmer 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse again.  Return to the pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, skimming foam from the top as needed.  Turn down heat to a simmer and cook about 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender.  Drain and set aside.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the squash.  The way I like to do it is to cut the squash into four pieces, leaving the middle part with the seeds intact, like you'd cut an apple around its core.  Then place each of the squash pieces flat side down and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Then slice out the seeds and gunk from each slice with a knife (peeling the inside) and then turn your knife to peeling  the skin off the outer part.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place each squash piece flat on a baking sheet.  Brush squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Turn squash pieces over and repeat.  Bake about 20 minutes or until the squash slices start to brown on the bottom.  Turn the slices over and continue baking until fork tender.  Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle.

While the squash is cooking, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium - low heat in a dutch oven.  Add the onion, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften.  Turn down the heat to low and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, a couple of minutes more.  Add 6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.

Puree about half the cooked beans with a cup or so of chicken or vegetable broth in a blender until smooth.  Add the pureed beans to the pot.  Add the remaining beans and enough broth to thicken the soup to your desired consistency.  Bring to a simmer.  Chop the cooked squash and add to the soup.  Simmer 10 minutes more.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding lemon juice if desired.  Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf and stir in the parsley.  Serve hot. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Soft Sugar Cookies (Gluten Free & Vegan)

It's snowing again!  I can't believe it.  The girls have been busy building forts in the living room, enjoying their day off school, while I've kept busy cleaning, decluttering and working on school stuff from home.  Music keeps me focused, although DH and I differ on exactly what "focused" means.  For him it means concentrating on one thing at a time to the exclusion of other things.  For me it means juggling several different tasks at once, giving each a spurt of attention at a time, while listening to music and skimming the surface of the many swirling thoughts in my head.  This might look haphazard in action, but all the tasks eventually get done.  Music can also help me hyperfocus on stuff as well - I spent untold hours studying in high school and college with headphones on, music loud and on repeat, pencil and foot tapping.  Ah, hindsight is 20/20, but I'm glad for the clarity now.  The only way we can get Megan to focus on cleaning her room for more than two minutes is to slap headphones on her and pipe in some upbeat music.  You go, girl.  I know exactly how it is. 

So, it's cold and snowing outside. I'm done with my busy work and I've got The Naked and Famous set to repeat.  I'd rather turn on the oven and bake than turn up the thermostat, and it's about that time after hours spent feeling chilly.  Today's selction is (gluten free and vegan!) Soft Sugar Cookies.  My guidance for these cookies comes from this recipe here.  I love that I don't have to roll them out and that they stay soft and don't crumble in the least.  They keep well for several days in the cookie jar, if they last that long.  They are perfect plain or frosted.   For Valentine's Day, make the frosting pink with beet juice!

Soft Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup dairy free, soy free margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. orange or lemon extract

1 1/4 cups GF flour blend
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Sift together the flour through the salt, set aside.

Cream together the margarine, sugar, orange or lemon extract and Daiya cream cheese with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy .  Stir in the flour mixture with a spoon, then beat until combined.

Drop batter by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Frost when cooled, if desired.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

*For frosting made with beet juice: beat together 3 tbsp. dairy free, soy free margarine and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.  Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and beat.  Add 1 tbsp. beet juice and beat until well blended.  Add another cup of powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, thinning with beet juice until a nice thick frosting consistency is reached. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chili with Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes

It's cold!  I finally broke out my wool sweaters and socks last month and have worn them several times already.  Our temps have been swinging from 80 degrees to 20 degrees, and this morning we woke up to 17 degrees and snow.  Snow!  Driving to school this morning was an adventure with the wheels spinning starting off in first gear, the car sliding across the roads and watching other people do the same.  It never used to bother me back home, but here they don't have the equipment to deal with the snow and ice, and nobody knows how to drive in the stuff.  It makes me anxious driving in these conditions, which quickly turn treacherous, with the girls in the car.  I gripped the steering wheel driving home after school, shifting into neutral over the many slick icy patches, hoping there was nobody too close in front, behind or beside.  I was thinking of dinner, and comfort food for cold weather, and decided on chili.  It's still hot on the stove now, waiting for DH to walk home from the train station.  The conditions of the roads bother him too and he has forbidden us to drive the mile to pick him up, insisting on walking instead.  So I wait anxiously to hear his key in the door and for us to all be home safe together.

My mom's chili is one of the meals I remember really liking growing up.  To this day I can't make chili without thinking of her, kind of like I can't help but think of my grandfather when I think of clam chowder.   Mom's chili always had potatoes in it so for me, a good hearty chili always includes potatoes. Now that I'm older, I'm finding my preference is for sweet potatoes. So I've modified my mom's chili recipe a bit, and I really like the result. Serve the chili topped with avocado slices and with cornbread or pan-fried polenta and a lime wedge on the side.

2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cooked black beans
1 cup cooked pinto beans, if desired
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can tomato puree (8 oz.)
1 can tomato paste
1 1/2 - 2 cups water
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground smoked paprika
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder 
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

juice of 1 lime
lime wedges, to serve

Heat a little olive oil in a large pot. Crumble the beef into the pot and stir to brown, draining fat as needed. Add the onion and cook until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans through the sweet potato and stir to combine.

Stir together the ground cumin through the black pepper. Add to the chili and stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Simmer 45 minutes to one hour, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potato is tender. Adjust seasonings again if desired. Turn off the heat, add the lime juice and stir. Serve hot with lime wedges, if desired.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sweet Potato Hash with Cilantro and Lime

Well, it's been awhile.  I can't believe I've let a month race by without posting any recipes.  Time just slips through my fingers like sand.  I blink, and a week has passed.  It seems like every time I look at the girls they look bigger, taller, stronger.  I find myself thinking of them as babies a lot lately, pulling down memories of their toothless grins and baby drool.  I wonder if my nostalgia is due to them growing like weeds, or the unpleasant thought that I'm teetering on the brink of forty.  It's probably both, but more the latter.  Teaching middle school students is not helping me feel any younger, either.   Today's writing exercise was to describe our class alien and his origins.  I was throwing out ideas to help prompt some creative thinking and to my horror, I almost said our alien likes to listen to rock and roll.  Rock and roll?  That sounds so 50's!  Then I thought, no wait, he listens to heavy metal!  Which brought up an image of big hair and skin tight pants from the 80's.  No, that wouldn't do either, as all of my dear students were not even born until 2 decades later.  So I blurted out that our class alien might be a nose-picking opera singer.  Because if your teacher can dream up a nose-picking alien, she can't be that old.  Right?

Sweet Potato Hash
I had this dish once at a restaurant some time ago and I recreated it based on memory.  It's one of my favorite fast dishes to throw together on weekends.  It's great with eggs or sausage...and it's great all by itself, too.

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
1/3 cup diced green or red pepper
1 shallot, diced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tsp. lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices cooked and chopped bacon, if desired

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the potato, green pepper and shallot.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the potato is tender.  Turn off the heat and add the cilantro, scallions and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper and adjust lime juice to taste.  Add cooked and chopped bacon, if desired.  Toss well and serve hot.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Nori Wrapped Asian Marinated Salmon

For Christmas, DH and I received some Forbidden Rice - a black rice that retains a deep purple color throughout the grain even after being cooked.  The color made me think of seaweed, which set off a search for Asian staples in my pantry and chain of thoughts that ended up in this dinner - Nori Wrapped Asian Marinated Salmon, steamed broccoli, black rice, and Vegetable Summer Rolls with Peanut Free, Soy Free Dipping Sauce.  I also included UnSoy Ginger Dipping Sauce on the table as a replacement for soy sauce for those who were so inclined.  It was a fabulous dinner.  

Most recipes for Asian marinades I found had either soy sauce or hoisin in the ingredients, but I found one here that looked agreeable to modification.  I found good instructions for wrapping the salmon in nori sheets here.  The salmon was excellent - everyone loved it (even cold the next day!).  I did not get pictures that do the salmon justice, but next time I make this dish, I'll post prettier pictures.

Nori Wrapped Salmon hot out of the oven.

Nori Wrapped Asian Marinated Salmon

For the Marinade:
1/3 cup coconut aminos
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tsp. dried lemongrass or 1 stalk fresh lemongrass (see how-to here)
2 tbsp. mirin
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. maple syrup

Whisk together all ingredients until well blended.

To assemble the salmon:
1.25 - 1.50 pound pound salmon filet, bones removed
nori sheets

Remove the skin from the salmon and cut into equal portions (see how-to here).  Place the salmon in a large zip-lock bag, pour the marinade into the bag and seal, making sure salmon is thoroughly coated with marinade.  Marinate 4 - 6 hours, turning every 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.  Have your nori sheets and salmon portions ready to assemble.  Place a nori sheet on a cutting board or other flat surface.  Place a piece of salmon, skinned side up, onto a sheet of nori.  Fold long ends over the salmon one at a time, then tuck short sides under and flip salmon seam side down onto the prepared baking sheet.  There is no need to seal the nori with water, it will stick to the wet salmon and seal as the salmon bakes.  Repeat with remaining salmon portions.  Discard the marinade.

Bake salmon about 10 minutes until salmon is cooked through. Remove salmon from oven and let sit a couple of minutes before serving hot.

Nori Wrapped salmon cold the next day - and still delicious.

Peanut Free, Soy Free Dipping Sauce

The other day I had a hankering for summer rolls with peanut sauce.  An Asian restaurant close to us makes a really good peanut sauce that is gluten free and as best as I can tell, it consists of peanut butter, sweet chili sauce, sugar and water.  The girls can't do peanut so they never get to partake.  I decided to make a dipping sauce at home they can enjoy.  I used crunchy almond butter, but you can use cashew butter or sunbutter.  I used this recipe here and what I remember of the restaurant's peanut sauce as my guides.  The sauce turned out really good.  The girls loved it, and that makes me happy.  I might sneak in a batch of my own sauce next time we go to the restaurant so the girls can enjoy a safe sauce with their summer rolls.

Seen here are Cabbage and Carrot Summer Rolls with Peanut Free, Soy Free Dipping Sauce. 

Peanut Free, Soy Free Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup almond butter
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. coconut aminos
1 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. water
1 tsp. grated ginger

Whisk together all ingredients until well blended.  Serve with summer rolls, or omit the water and serve with satay.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pecan Tassies, Gluten Free & Vegan

Pecan Tassies are one of my favorite holiday treats and one I have not had in 6 years, since going gluten and casein free.  Some people cheat for foods they love, but I never do.  The results are just not worth it.  For me, no food is worth a migraine, or bloating, or IBS, or itchy skin, or drop-dead exhaustion.    I've kept my old recipe, however, in hopes that one day, someone would come up with a casein-free cream cheese.  Finally, Daiya has done that!  Happy Day!  In truth, I don't care for the cream cheese by itself or on crackers or bagels.  It has a hint of sweetness that I don't care for, but this is probably because I still remember what dairy cream cheese tastes like.  The girls really like Daiya's cream cheeses on crackers and bagels.  However, I love baking with the plain cream cheese.  And honestly, it makes my Pecan Tassies divine.  I love them now more than ever in all their gluten free, casein free, egg free glory.  Because they are egg free, they don't have that crispy sugary skin on the top, but I really don't mind at all.  It's just super great to finally enjoy Pecan Tassies that are safe for everyone in my family.  I'll tell you they did not last long at all.  I need to make more!

Pecan Tassies, Gluten Free & Vegan

1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine
3 tbsp. Daiya Plain Cream Cheese
1 cup GF flour blend

Beat the margarine and cream cheese until smooth.  Add the flour and beat until well combined.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
1/2 cup ground pecans

Whilte the dough is chilling, stir together the brown sugar through the salt and mix until well combined.  Add the ground nuts and stir.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a mini muffin tin with margarine, set aside.

Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator.  Form the dough into 1 inch balls and press into the muffin cups evenly over the bottom and up the sides.  Spoon about a teaspoon of the filling into each muffin cup (filling should not reach more than 3/4 of the way up).  Bake until set, about 25 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove the cookies from the pan onto a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gluten Free, Vegan Linzer Torte & Linzer Strips

Every year during the holidays I make Linzer Torte. A Linzer Torte is a big cookie filled with fruit preserves and topped with a lattice crust. It's served in slices like a cake. It's beautiful and always impresses - it is the dessert that gets the most compliments year after year.  A Linzer Torte,  while not overly complicated, is definitely worth the time and effort it takes to make. This year my linzer torte is gluten and vegan and it's even better than it used to be when I made it with regular flour and butter and eggs. I promise I'm not exaggerating, it really is fabulous.  I make Linzer Strips with leftover torte dough and they are equally fabulous!

1 3/4 cups GF flour blend (this one works best)
1 cup almonds, walnuts or pecans, finely ground
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup Earth Balance margarine
2 tbsp. apple butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup apricot preserves*
1/2 cup raspberry preserves*
2 tbsp. coconut milk
powdered sugar for sifting, if desired

Combine the apricot and raspberry preserves, set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Sift together the flour through the cinnamon, set aside. 

Beat together the margarine, apple butter and vanilla until well blended. Transfer to a food processor. Add the flour mixture and process until dough comes together in a large clump (or, beat shortening and flour mixtures together by hand until combined). Divide the dough in half, wrap halves with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Take half the dough out of the refrigerator. With floured hands, take small clumps and place them in a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and an inch up the sides of the pan. Slice away the jagged ends with a knife and remove the excess to make an even trim one inch high all around. You may not use all of the dough - I like a thin crust, so I always have leftover dough - save leftover dough for Linzer Strips (see bottom of post). Spread the preserves into the crust.

Take the remaining half of the dough and place it on a floured piece of wax paper. Roll the dough with a floured rolling pin into a circle larger than the springform pan, lifting half the dough at a time to put more flour underneath the dough as needed. With a floured butter knife, cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips, discarding jagged ends. Take a long knife or cake spreader and carefully run it under a strip of dough to loosen it. Then run it underneath the strip of dough, lifting the strip to place it on top of the preserves.

Trim the excess from the ends to fit the pan. Repeat, placing four strips (or more if you can) evenly across the preserves. Turn the pan a quarter turn and place an equal number strips of dough on top of the previous strips of dough, creating a diamond pattern. Run a floured knife between the pan and the dough sides to loosen, then with your fingers carefully press the trim down upon the edges of the lattice crust to make the edge. The dough is forgiving enough to take a finger and smooth away any cracks or breaks.

Dip a finger into the coconut milk, then gently brush the dough strips and edges of the tart with the coconut milk, smoothing away any imperfections.  Chill about 20 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. Bake the torte in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the preserves are bubbly.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for an hour. Run a butter knife around the torte to loosen and remove the sides from the springform pan.  Then, undo the latch and carefully remove the sides.  Serve at room temperature or cover and chill up to 24 hours, bringing torte to room temperature before serving. Sift powdered sugar over top of the torte before serving, if desired.  Makes 12 small servings or 8 big servings, depending on how you slice it.

*Sometimes I cheat and use one 10oz bottle of St. Dalfour fruit preserves.

To make Linzer Strips:

Take leftover torte dough and roll into one or two logs (depending on how much dough you have) about 2 inches thick.  Place the logs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Make an indentation down the center of the logs with your thumb, molding edges slightly.  Fill indentation with fruit preserves (do not mound the preserves, keep the preserves level with the sides of the logs). 

Bake at 375 degrees until the logs are golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.  Slice the logs diagonally into individual cookies.  Finish cooling, then drizzle with icing and enjoy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gingerbread with Caramel Cinnamon Sauce (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Cold weather just screams for homemade gingerbread.  I love this cake's homey simplicity.  I love gingerbread  better than any other cake except for maybe apple.  It's perfectly fine plain, but adding the Caramel Cinnamon Sauce gives it a touch of elegance I think it deserves.

3/4 cup dark molasses
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. powdered ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease one 9x13 inch baking dish with shortening or a bit of margarine, set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour through the salt.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl add the molasses together with boiling water, stirring gently, until combined. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine.  Add the grapeseed oil and applesauce and mix well.  Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until well incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the baking dish and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature.  Cut into squares and serve with a drizzle of Caramel Cinnamon Sauce and a dollop of whipped coconut cream  or if you're lazy like me, a squirt of Rice Whip.

Caramel Cinnamon Sauce
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut cream
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat.  Bring to a simmer and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened a bit.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly before drizzling over gingerbread.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sourdough Biscuits (Gluten Free & Vegan)

It's Thanksgiving week and we are having winter weather!  Brrr!  It's time to turn on the oven and bake!  These humble biscuits are good any time and my whole house loves them.  They're so good I'm going to make them for Thanksgiving dinner too and skip the stuffing and cornbread.  We won't skip pie, though.  Last year it was pecan pie and pumpkin pie.  This year it will be apple crumb pie.  Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.  Stay warm.

Sourdough Biscuits
These are cowboy sourdough biscuitsI can't seem to find the original recipe and in all likelihood I took elements from a few to cobble this together.  These are good anytime biscuits that go with everything, though I am partial to serving them with Tex Mex Pinto Beans.

3/4 cup all-purpose GF flour blend (I like High Protein)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup fed sourdough starter
1 tbsp. olive oil

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda.  Pour in the sourdough starter and mix well.  Cut into the dough with the side of your spoon and mix, making sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated.  The dough should not be sticky, but should be able to stick together without crumbling apart. If your dough is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at t time until the desired consistency is reached.

Form dough into balls of equal size.  Dip the balls into the olive oil, turn oiled side up, then place into one 8" cake pan or cast iron skillet.  Let rise 30 minutes. 


Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the biscuits for 20 minutes.  Let cool in pan until warm, then serve immediately.  Makes between 6 - 8 biscuits.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Are they little cakes?  Are they big cookies?  Who cares?*  These little treats aim to please and trust me, they do.  The original recipe comes from Penzey's, who recommend marshmallow creme in the filling to make it fluffy.  I can't find a gluten free, dairy free, soy free equilavent so I left that particular ingredient out.  I was just overwhelmingly pleased to be finally able to use a cream cheese alternative in my baking!  These pumpkin whoopie pies are perfect for this time of year.  They are so good I may even make them again for Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin pieMaybe.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 cup palm shortening

1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups all purpose GF flour blend

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchement paper, set aside.

In a large bowl stir together the brown sugar through the cloves until well blended.  Add the shortening to the bowl and beat until creamy.  Add the applesauce and pumpkin puree and beat until combined.  Stir in the flour blend until incorporated.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet.  With a back of a spoon or your finger, smooth the tops.  Bake 15 - 20 minutes or until the cookies are firm and the bottoms are lightly browned.  Cool the cookies 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the filling.  Beat together 1/4 cup Daiya plain cream cheese and 2 tbsp. Earth Balance Soy Free Margarine.  Add 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.  Whip until thoroughly combined.  Spread 1 - 2 tbsp. filling onto the flat bottom of one cookie and top with another cookie.  Serve immediately (as if you could wait!).  Store whoopie pies in the refrigerator.

*You can make these without the filling and they will be really yummy pumpkin cookies on their own.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Ganache

We celebrated DH's birthday the other week.  It was the big 4-0 and I felt that we should be irreverent about it (totally sticking our tongues out at this particular milestone).  One of his presents was a book titled Fart Proudly (featuring satirical writings by Benjamin Franklin).  After that, I had to make up for it by making him a yummy birthday cake. I looked at a Penzey's recipe and said "hey that looks good", and since DH didn't have a yen for anything in particular, I got to play.  The cake turned out really good.  So good, in fact, that DH ate half of it himself in one sitting and I was caught sneaking frosting on the sly.  I will make this cake whenever possible and share it with as many people as possible, it's so good.  Please see the original recipe for what looks like a decent cream cheese frosting recipe (you can use Daiya's cream cheese!).  I was short on time, so I frosted a warmish cake with a cream cheese ganache, which I will not change in the future because it was fabulous.

Great Chocolate Cake
3 cups GF flour blend (I used 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Rice and 1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Sorghum)
1/2 cup cocoa powder (not dutch)
2 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut milk
3/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup brandy
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease one 9x13 inch baking dish with palm shortening, set aside.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour through the xanthan gum.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, applesauce and sugar.  Add the coconut milk and stir.  Add the hot water, brandy and vanilla and whisk gently to combine.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk well to combine, scraping down the sides as necessary.  Pour into the prepared baking dish.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to a wire rack to cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Ganache
1 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Daiya Plain Cream Cheese
1/4 cup coconut milk

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat.  Stir until the chocolate begins to melt - keep stirring constantly until almost all the chips are melted (add more coconut milk a tablespoon at a time if the mixture seems too thick).  Then remove from the heat and stir until completely melted.  Chocolate has a low melting point, and it will continue to melt away from the heat - be patient and don't be tempted to turn the heat up or the chocolate will burn.

When the frosting is smooth, pour it over the cake and smooth it evenly all over the top.  Let cool before slicing.

(This cake will make your mouth smile.  I promise.)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Apple Honey "Lemonade"

Okay, this is really Vinegar Lemonade, but I'm calling it Apple Honey Lemonade to make it sound more appealing to the girls.  Anna can't stand anything vinegary, but she will drink vinegar lemonade with a fancy name.  It's surprisingly good and it's good for you.  Raw apple cider vinegar and raw local honey both have many health benefits (read more here). I found a good recipe for vinegar lemonade here (along with several other good recipes we tried during summer camp - did you know that drinking cider vinegar is how the pioneers got their vitamin C?  So interesting!).  I fill a pitcher with it so it's always around when I want some.  I am just now starting to drink it daily to aid digestion, boost immunity and help tamp down heartburn (which is working very well so far).  I like a nice tart drink so I added quite a bit of vinegar to this lemonade, but you can cut the vinegar down to 1/3 will be a little sweeter that way, which is how the girls like it. 

Apple Honey "Lemonade"

8 cups warm water
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar

Pour the warm water into a pitcher.  Add the honey and stir to dissolve.  Stir in the cider vinegar.  Enjoy lukewarm or cold.  Store in the refrigerator.

*If you want to try just one cup first to see if you like it, stir 1 tbsp. raw honey into 1 cup warm water to dissolve.  Add 1 tbsp. vinegar, stir and enjoy.