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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thoughts on Kindness

Today was Anna's day to shed her braces and headgear, at least for the next year or so.  She now sports a nifty, thin, clear plastic retainer that is nearly invisible and way cooler than the plastic and metal one I had as a kid.  We are in a holding pattern now, where she wears the retainer to keep her teeth from moving while we wait for all her baby teeth to fall out before starting a second phase of braces.  She is getting orthodontic treatment at a university - we get a substantial discount and students get training.  It's been a great experience.  I didn't know how Anna would react to the manipulation of her teeth, the hands in her mouth, the palate expander, the headgear worn all night for months on end.  She is high functioning but still is very sensitive to touch and sound.  I told her student-in-training about the Aspergers and he took it in stride.  He was very kind and took every opportunity to tell her how well she'd done sitting in the chair for long periods of time enduring the discomfort of having hands and equipment in her mouth and impressions taken of her teeth.  He just exuded patience and grace.  Even though I thanked him every visit, he will probably never know just how much I appreciate his kindness.  Just like nobody really ever knows how they affect others.  Things that we don't think about, our words and body language and deeds, can have a profound impanct on others.

 The university building where Anna saw her orthodontist-in-training happens to be just a two block walk to the outpatient facility where Anna received speech and occupational therapies after her diagnosis at age three and a half.  Every time I drive by, it tugs at my heart.  Anna has no memory of the building and maybe no memory of the therapies.  But I remember everything about it.  I remember dragging a small rocking chair with us to Anna's first appointments because rocking was the only thing that would calm her.  I rememer hearing her scream bloody murder through the hallways and past closed doors when she didn't want to do the activities her therapists tried to get her to do.  I remember the fear.  I remember dragging poor bored baby Megan with us, who wondered why she never got to go do 'fun' things like her sister.  I'm sure the therapists who worked with Anna then have no memory of us now.  But I remember the difference they made in Anna's life, their kindness and dedication,which live now in my heart and mind. 

I work at a school for learning different children.  I do my best to be for others the goodness I've received, but I never know what's hit or what's miss.  So I was surprised by a parent the other day.  Months ago I had said something to her that I had forgotten about completely.  She caught my attention and thanked me for reaching out to her and helping make a decision that turned out to make a significant positive difference for her child.  She told me how much she appreciated it then and how much she appreciates it now.  She spoke to me as parent to teacher, but I received it as parent to parent.  Because I know how she feels.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Red Beans over Millet Grits

Some time ago I was given a Bob's Red Mill gift card.  At the time I thought it'd be a good idea to get items that I could store and pull out in an emergency (I live in Tornado Alley, remember, and the threat of severe weather is never far from my mind).  So I ordered boxes of Brown Rice Farina, Millet Grits, Green Pea Flour, White Bean Flour and Black Bean Flour.  In a pinch, I could turn those items into hot cereals or soups on our grill.  The boxes sat in storage against a day we might possibly need them...until I had to pull them out and use them before they went bad.  Hmmm.  What do do with all this stuff?  

Anna loves a good hot cereal with maple syrup and nuts day or night, winter or summer, but Megan and I tend less toward sweet and more toward savory.  I try to stay away from corn as much as possible since it tends to disagree with me.  As much as I love a good polenta or corn grits, it's been years since I've indulged.  I thought maybe I could use millet grits in place of corn grits, or even in place of rice.  So I tried it with a topping of red beans one night for dinner and now I'm hooked.  Millet grits are easy and fast to prepare, delicious, and won't break the bank.  Four bags went fast and now I need to order more!  


Red Beans over Millet Grits is a low-cost, nutritious meal.  We like it so much it's entered our regular rotation, but other toppings would work well too (Cuban Black Beans, Lentils, any number of Indian dishes, etc.).

Millet Grits
1 cup millet grits
3 cups water or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. salt

Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a medium pot.  Add the millet grits, turn down the heat, and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and stir until the liquid is mostly gone.  Turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes.  (Use water to turn the grits into a hot cereal or use vegetable broth for a savory meal.)

Red Beans
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1- 2 tbsp. adobo sauce
1 cup tomato sauce (or pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce...my favorite is Muir Glen Pizza Sauce)
2 cans of cooked red kidney beans, drained
chopped cilantro and lime wedges to serve, if desired

In a small bowl, combined the smoked paprika through the black pepper.  Set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until just soft.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute.  Add the adobo sauce (from a can of chilis in adobo - you can mince a chili and add it too for more heat) and the tomato sauce, stir to combine. Add the drained kidney beans and the reserved spices.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to cook for several minutes.  Taste test, adding more adobo sauce if desired (I ususally use 2 tbsp. adobo sauce).  Turn off the heat and spoon over millet grits.  Serve hot with cilantro and lime wedges on the side.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Red Lentil Hummus

Hi, everyone.  Long time, no write.  I have been so flat out lately that I quite honestly just dream of sleeping.  Unfortunately, my dreams are convoluted and full of angst so I don't really feel rested, ever.  My poor husband, who lives lately to relax and detox with me over a Dr. Who episode, has had to hear excuses about how I really cannot make it through a 45 minute episode and must get some sleep now.  Even my normally constantly whirring mind is demanding a break and I'm finding myself falling asleep at the computer or as I'm trying to grade papers. 

And yet, here I am posting a recipe.  Wait, I can hear you ask, What are you doing posting a recipe when you should be cementing lesson plans for your lovely, fabulous students?  Because....because sometimes lesson plans need to wait, and the mind needs to take a break.  I mean, when you start telling your grammar students that they need to ask their sentences questions and then listen for the answers, you know it's time to unwind.  Yes, it's time to table the grammar and share a recipe.

Tonight I am choosing to post a super fast, super easy recipe for hummus.  It's not a true hummus, as it's made from red lentils, but it tastes really great and it's a nice departure from the standard chickpea hummus we've been living on for years.  Given our food sensitivities, it is not unwise to switch things up a bit and give some foods a break.  Red lentils fall apart when cooked so a huge plus to this recipe is the fact that I don't have to haul out the food processor to get a smooth consistency.  This hummus is divine served warm and drizzled with some good olive oil.


Red Lentil Hummus

2 cups dried red lentils
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8. tsp. cayenne pepper

Heat about 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan until boiling.  Add the lentils and reduce heat.  Stirring frequently to keep the lentils from ssticking to the bottom of the pot, simmer until the lentils are soft and falling apart, about 15 - 20 minutes.  You may need to add water as the lentils cook.  You want the final mixture to be thick, not soupy.  The lentils are done when you stir them with a spoon and they turn into a smooth-ish looking paste.  Turn off the heat.

To the lentils add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Ajust the seasonings to your taste.  The dip is great served warm and it will thicken as it cools. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Macaroni and Cheese - Updated


One of the hardest things to give up after the family went gluten, casein and soy free was my mom's macaroni and cheese. Over the years I tried several different recipes, some fancier than others (4 cheese, anyone?), but none held a candle to my mom's. I guarded her recipe closely, always making sure I knew where that stained 3x5 inch recipe card rested. I gave out the recipe sparingly, and everyone I made it for loved it. There's really nothing fancy about it. I think it's just the epitome of home-baked goodness in a casserole dish.

My mom's recipe has converted beautifully into a gluten/vegan/soy free version of the original with the help of So Delicious Plain Unsweetened coconut milk yogurt (which provides a nice tang) and Daiya Cheddar shreds (which provides awesome creaminess).  My mom's macaroni and cheese is still superb even after all the changes.


Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups dry GF (I like Tinkyada Brown Rice Shells or Rotini)
2 tbsp. Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF flour blend 
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup So Delicious plain unsweeteend coconut milk
1 cup So Delicious plain unsweetened coconut milk yogurt
one 8oz. package Daiya shredded cheese, your choice
 GF breadcrumbs (I use EnerG)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Smear a medium casserole dish with olive oil, set aside.

Whisk together the coconut milk and yogurt until smooth, set aside.

Cook the dry pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and put in a medium bowl, set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper and mustard powder, then whisk into the olive oil, forming a smooth paste. Cook a few seconds until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add the yogurt mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens. Add the shredded cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Remove cheese sauce from heat.  Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat.

Spoon the cheesy pasta into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven. Serve hot. Yield: About 4 servings.

(See Mom? It's so awesome! I know you would love it!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Banana Cinnamon Rolls


Banana Cinnamon Rolls - unfussy, easy, lovely, tasty Cinnamon Rolls.  What more can I say?  I love this recipe. It is no big deal to whip these up on a weekend (or on a holiday), I think it takes all of 30 minutes from start to finish.  I've used banana and pumpkin puree in this recipe, but I like the banana the best.  Happy Holidays, y'all!

Banana Cinnamon Rolls

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 mashed banana
4 tbsp. coconut milk

3 tbsp. melted coconut oil
1/3 cup sugar mixed with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lay a piece of parchement paper onto a baking sheet, set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour through the baking powder.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the mashed banana and coconut milk.  Add to the dry mixture and stir until well blended.  The dough should not be super sticky - if it is too wet, add a tablespoon of flour.  If it is too dry, add a tablespoon of milk.


Lay a piece of parchment paper on the counter and dust with flour.  Scrape the dough onto the parchment paper.  Sprinkle the dough with flour and flatten with your hands into a rectangle about 1/3 inch thick.  Spread melted coconut oil on top of the dough.  Top the dough evenly with the cinnamon sugar mixture.


Starting at a long end, sprinkle some flour at the edge of the dough where it meets the parchment paper and begin to lift the paper to roll the dough into a log (a spatula works well for this).  Keep laying flour at the edge of the dough where it meets the parchment paper to encourage the dough to release without sticking to the paper too much. 


Slice the log with a floured knife into equally sized round 1inch pieces, about 8 of them.


Place each round onto the prepared baking sheet.


 Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until baked through, lightly browned on the top and golden brown on the bottom.

 

Remove from oven and cool.  If desired, drizzle with a glaze made out of powdered sugar and milk before serving.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Savory Potato Scones


 
(Potato Scones without eggs)

It's finally winter break!  I'm so excited for a chance to relax a little bit and enjoy my family and for a chance to bake!  Today's offering is two versions of Potato Scones - one with eggs (for those who can do eggs) and one without eggs (for those who cannot do eggs).  These scones are a sort of cross between potato pancakes and farl.  This recipe is a great way to quickly use a few potatoes that are starting to sprout eyes.  I like these scones topped simply with margarine and served with a soup or a salad to round out a light meal. The version with eggs is a little lighter than the one without eggs, but my taste-testers (the girls) liked both versions equally well.


Ingredients for Potato Scones with Eggs

1 cup GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 cups mashed russet potatoes (mashed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dried parsley
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic or onion powder, if desired 


                                                         (Potato Scones with eggs)


Ingredients for Potato Scones without Eggs

1 cup GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 cups mashed russet potatoes (mashed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper)2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1/2 cup plain coconut milk (or try leftover gravy if available)
2 tbsp. flax meal
1/4 cup shredded Daiya cheese, if desired
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic or onion powder, if desired

Directions for Cooking
Preheat a griddle (preferably cast iron) over medium-low heat.  In a small bowl sift together the flour and the baking powder, set aside.  

In a large bowl stir together the remaining ingredients (mashed potatoes through garlic powder).  Stir in the flower mixture to form a sticky dough.

Divide the dough in half. Turn out one portion onto a piece of floured wax paper. Sprinkle a little flour over top of the dough and then flatten with your hands into a circle 1/2 inch thick. With a knife dipped in flour, cut the dough circle into 4 wedges.  Drizzle a little olive oil onto the preheated griddle, then transfer the scones with a spatula to the griddle.   Repeat with the remaining dough.


 

Cook scones about 5 - 7 minutes or until deep golden brown. Turn and brown the other side, adding more oil to the skillet as necessary.  Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly.  Serve scones warm. Store leftovers in plastic wrap and reheat for a few minutes on the griddle before serving.


 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Homemade Burritos

I am tired.

Let me say it again.  I. Am. Tired.  And this is so, so sad, but the last thing I want to do is cook anything on a school night.  I make a pot of soup on the weekends that will get us through half the week, and the other half is improvised with whatever is leftover in the fridge.  Last night I made chicken salad lettuce wraps topped with guacamole and served Beanitos and red pepper strips on the side.  I am SO lucky my girls thought that was the best dinner ever.  They are pretty agreeable to most things...even sardines on toast (served when mommy is totally frazzled).

After making enchiladas that were a big hit (a more involved weekend meal), I started to crave burritos.  I'm talking the frozen, throw in the microwave, stick to the roof of your mouth kind I remember from childhood...mostly white flour tortilla with a weensy bit of filling inside.  Looking back now I think, how gross was that?  Nasty glutenous processed comfort food at its worst, filled with trans fats and mystery meat and who knows what else...blech.  But now I wanted burritos...fast.  They had to be easy to throw together and easy to reheat on a school night.  Enter Rudi's GF tortillas (happily also egg free!) and Pacific Refried Beans.

I'm not even going to post a real recipe for these burritos.  Basically, do what you want.  Throw in some cooked diced sweet potato into the refried beans, or some ground meat, or broccoli, or whatever you like.  Stir it together in a bowl.  Season to taste.  Scoop some filling onto one side of a tortilla and top with Daiya.  Roll up as in the pictures below.  Cook over low heat in a skillet brushed with a little olive oil until golden brown on the bottom, then flip and cook on the other side.  Covering the skillet helps the cheese melt inside.  Serve with salsa and guacamole and a veggie on the side.  You can make these and freeze them for when you are having a really, really bad day and just feel like you want to sling skillets across the kitchen instead of cook with them.  Don't do that.  Head for the freezer and sling some burritos into the skillet instead.


Ahh, burritos.  I feel better already.  I don't even have to warm up the tortillas before rolling!

In fact, I feel slightly giddy over the way these tortillas don't split and crack open as I stuff and roll them.  Rudis, you make me so happy, because if I had to make my own tortillas on a school night, I'd be really cranky.

So pretty, no?  Not a split in sight.

I'm feeling better and better.  I've spent like, 3 minutes on dinner at this point.

Look at those burrittos, nestled so snug in my frying pan.  Very soon, I will eat you, little burritos, 
and you will be so tasty!  (Good grief, I'm tired.)

Salsa-free, for Anna who still cannot deal with anything saucy.

Megan and I like to dump salsa on ours.  She likes to smother her sauteed cabbage 
in salsa too.  To each her own.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

In the Thick of It

It is one month into the school year.  I'm tired and inspired.  And I'm feeling drawn to this song by The Cult.  I'm on one of those jags where I play a piece of music on repeat over and over. Right now, this is the soundtrack to my life.

(The sparkle in your eyes, keeps me alive.  And the sparkle in your eyes, keeps me alive, yeah.)

And right now, I love what I do.  Some days are great, and some days are hard.  I love them all.  Those sparks of inspiration, those moments of elucidation, those times of connection and communication - I live for those.  I. love. this.  Lord help me.

You may be wondering, when the heck am I going to post an inspired recipe?  Well I am dismayed to admit that I suck at cooking lately.  I actually served a dinner recently to friends that featured overcooked sausage and undercooked potatoes.  The horror!  And all I could say was....dudes.  I teach.  I'm sorry, but catch me on vacation.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fried Sage



One summer when we traveled back home, we stayed at a B&B that served fried potatoes with fried sage for breakfast.  I'd never had anything like fried sage before - freshly plucked out of the garden and fried in a little olive oil until just crisp.  It was delicious.  It's taken several years to actually make fried sage myself.  I'm glad I did - it's as good as I remember it, and the girls inhaled it.  Anna likes to eat hers straight up, but I like to crumble mine on top of other food, such as roasted vegetables.  I like to think that sage's antiviral properties help fight cold sores, which have plagued me even after raising the white flag of surrender and taking daily medication to fight flare-ups.  Dirty rotten flare-ups do still happen, especially when I'm under stress, which is a constant lately.  So I figure dabbing sage tincture on my lips and eating sage in whatever manner I can, even fried, has to be doing some good.  One has to hope, anyway.

Frying sage is super easy.  Grab several fresh organic sage leaves.  I grabbed mine from my garden, so I didn't bother washing them because I knew where they came from...I just waved them around a bit to dislodge whatever dust or pollen there was on them.  I figured any bug spit would be rendered inert by the frying, and in any case, little protein never hurt anyone.  If you want to wash your sage, be sure to pat the leaves dry before frying, or the water will spit and splatter in the hot oil and you'll be running for cover while the sage burns.

Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a shallow frying pan over medium-low heat.  Add sage leaves in a single layer and cook several seconds.  They will be stiff and will turn a lovely dark green color - do not let them brown. Flip and cook another several seconds, then remove to a paper towel to drain.  Sprinkle with salt immediately if desired, and let cool.  They will be crispy and delicious!.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Enchiladas with Rice and Beans

The start of school is just one week away.  I can't believe the summer has already come and gone, but I am looking forward to this school year.  Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I just love a challenge.  Someday that instinct might kill me, bur for now it's a thrill.  With any transition there are some hiccups, and Anna is hiccuping a lot lately.  She is going into middle school, and I can see the great hulking anxiety about it hovering over her shoulders, sinking its talons deep into her psyche.  I do my best to be a great snowplow, hunkering down and plowing through deep snow and storm, trying to grab her hand to come with me.  Just walk, sweetie, put one foot in front of the other, and it will be fine.  We will get there.  But she and I are different, and she looks at the storm and freaks out.  It happens every year.  Some transitions are better than others, and this one I think will be hard.  Her anxiety becomes my anxiety.  Her fear becomes my fear.  It is that way with parents, I think.  I try to be strong-headed about it, but I'm not sure that's what she needs.  So I have been filled with a nervous energy lately. What's good for nervous energy?  Cooking for people you love.  I've made these enchiladas three times in a short span of time. They are a little involved but the result makes people smile, and that is good therapy.  I should call these my stress enchiladas. I'm going to make them again this weekend.  That should tell you something about my stress levels.

A good friend showed my how to make enchiladas properly.  She told me to flash fry them in oil before filling and rolling.  Part of me balked because I could imagine the tortillas sucking up and retaining the oil, which is not the healthiest thing ever.  But I did it her way.  The tortillas rolled beautifully without breaking apart, they did not soak up the enchilada sauce and become soggy, and they stayed separated when I served them for dinner.  Fabulous!  Her way of making enchiladas turned out better than any other way I've tried to make them.  Now I'm a convert, flash frying those puppies with aplomb.  I like to serve enchiladas as a meal with rice and beans, like you'd get in a restaurant, so I've included recipes for all three in one post.  I've based my enchildada recipe on this one here (my friend makes them with shredded chicken, which is good too).  I like using Frontera enchilada sauce (chef crush!) but when it's not on sale, I make my own (based on the recipe I found here).

To make enchildadas, rice and beans as a meal, start the rice first.  While the rice cooks, assemble the enchiladas.  While the enchiladas bake, make the black beans.  Serve all with diced avocados, diced tomatoes and chopped cilantro.

Enchilada Sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp all purpose GF flour blend
1 -  2 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. tomato sauce
8 oz.chicken broth
2 tbsp. tomato puree

Combine the oil through the salt in a medium saucepan.  Heat on low until bubbly, cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth and tomato puree.  Simmer until slightly thickened.  Adjust salt and chili powder to taste.  This can be made a day ahead - store in the refrigerator.

Beef and Bean Filling
1 lb ground beef
1 small chopped onion
16oz prepared refried beans (such as Pacific Organic Refried Pinto Beans)
1 chopped tomato, if desired
salt, cumin and chili powder to taste

Brown the beef in a skillet over medium heat with the onion until the beef is cooked through and the onion is soft.  Drain the fat from the pan.  To the beef add the refried beans, tomato and seasonings to taste. This can be made a day ahead - store in the refrigerator.

Mexican Rice
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 small diced onion
1 cup long grain rice
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and garilc and cook until the garlic is translucent, stirring frequently.  Add the rice and cook, stirring, for two minutes.  Add the tomato sauce through the salt.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Fluff with a fork.  Garnish with tomato and parsley. (Inspiriation found here.)

Mexican Black Beans
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 cups cooked black beans
1 cup chicken broth, plus more if needed
1/2 tsp. salt
dash pepper
dash lime juice

Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic, jalapeno and cumin and cook 30 seconds.  Add the beans, chicken broth, salt and pepper, cook 5 minutes.  Mash the beans coarsley. Continue cooking until thick, about 10 minutes.  Stir in lime juice.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  (Original recipe here.)

Enchiladas
one package corn tortillas
oil for frying
prepared beef and bean filling
prepared enchilada sauce
Daiya cheese shreds
toppings of your choice

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spread some of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of one 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  Set aside.


Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add a tortilla and cook for several seconds only.
 
Flip the tortilla and cook for another several seconds, until the tortillas are bubbly but not browned.  Remove to a paper towel to drain.

 

You do not want the tortillas to get crispy.  Cooking them in oil this way keeps them soft enough to roll without breaking, and it keeps the enchiladas from getting soggy when baking in the sauce.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

To assemble, place a few tablespoons of the prepared filling onto one end of a tortilla.  Roll the tortilla and place seam-side down in the prepared baking dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

 

Spread enchilada sauce over the tops of the enchiladasYou may not use all of the sauce - if you don't, freeze the rest for later.   

 

Scatter Daiya over the enchiladas - cheddar is great, though all I had for this picture is mozzarella.  Some enchiladas are naked because Anna does not care for the texture of melted cheese.


Bake enchiladas for about 20 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese is melted.  If you left some enchiladas naked, it helps to spread a little more enchildada sauce over them before serving, so they don't look dry.  

Serve with the black beans and rice and your choice of toppings.


***If you have leftover filling, turn it into a dip for the next day.  Spread some enchilada sauce on the bottom of a small baking dish.  Spread the filling on top of the sauce.  Spead some more enchilada sauce on top of the filling and top with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until hot and the cheese is melted.  Scatter diced avocado over the top and serve with chips.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Churros - Gluten Free & Vegan



It has finally gotten hot here, and I am disinclined to turn on the oven to bake.  Whatever I can make on the stovetop or the counter is what I've been cooking lately.  Churros are a great dessert, although other parts of the world serve them for breakfast. (That is something I need to try...churros dipped in hot chocolate?  Yum!)  These little strips of fried dough are super easy to make and they make the kids smile.  It's so hard to resist the girls when they smile with a please and sparkly eyes.  What's a mom supposed to do?  Yes, I'll make churros.  I found the original recipe here.


1 cup water
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 cup All Purpose Rice flour blend
oil for frying (coconut oil is great, but canola works too)
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oil for frying to 375 degrees.

In a small saucepan, combine water, 2 1/2 tbsp. sugar, salt and coconut oil.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove.  Stir the flour into the hot water, then beat with a whisk until the mixture forms a smooth and sticky ball.  Put the batter into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.  Pipe strips of dough into the hot oil a few at a time.  Fry about 2 minutes or until golden; drain on paper towels.  Roll hot churros in cinnamon sugar.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Skillet Bread - Gluten Free & Vegan


I have a headache.  It's one of those dull, viselike aches that tighten and turn into a migraine if I don't take care of it.  Sometimes this happens with stress, but mostly it happens when weather is coming.  I can always tell if we are going to get weather, because the day before it arrives I'll get one of these headaches.  The weather service says we'll get weather tomorrow...I could have told them that.  I can feel it. 

When I'm not feeling good, chicken soup and biscuits really hit the spot.  (For something vegan, make vegetable soup with homemade vegetable broth.)  I make chicken soup with homemade stock every time, it's really the only way to do it.  It's easy, healthy and thrifty.  To make homemade stock, roast some chicken (whole or parts, bone-in) for dinner one night.  Save the bones, knuckles, skin and drippings - everything you don't eat.  Throw it all in the freezer for when you want to make stock, then take it and throw it all into a crock pot with some onion skins.  Add carrots, celery and parsley if available.  Cook on low in the crock pot for at least 12 hours.  Cool and strain, then store in the fridge.  When cold, the stock will gel up, like jello - that's how you know you have a stock with all the good stuff in it.

When ready to make soup, I chop an onion, a few carrots and a couple of celery stalks.  I cook them in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over low heat until they start to sweat, then I throw in some salt, thyme and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent.  If we are sick, I throw in a couple of cloves of minced garlic too.  Sometimes I'll add petite diced tomatoes and a cup of V8 (throw in some basil if you use tomatoes).  Then I add 6 - 8 cups of stock and bring just to a boil.  I add 1/2 cup of red lentils which help thicken the soup.  Sometimes I'll add 1 cup of pasta, that helps thicken the soup too.  Simmer about 20 minutes until the lentils fall apart and/or the pasta is tender.  I cook chopped chicken thighs separately before throwing them in the soup, but leftover cooked cubed or shredded chicken works well too.  That's it - fabulous every time.

The recipe that follows is for Skillet Bread.  It's actually one big biscuit.  This cooks on the stovetop while you are making soup.  I love these biscuits for their serious no-fuss quality.  I've made them several times now.  We've tried them cooked with olive oil, margarine and coconut oil, but coconut oil is our favorite.  Depending on what GF flour blend you use, they can even be flaky (best flaky results so far involve 1 3/4 cups of all purpose rice flour and 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour Blend).  It's fun to experiment with using different flours to change the taste and texture of the biscuits.  It's even more fun that this recipe is so easy and versatile.  I adapted the original recipe from Deep South Dish here.


Skillet Bread (GF & Vegan)
 
2 cups all purpose GF flour blend
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 cup Enjoy Life Soy-Free Margarine
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 tbsp. coconut oil, divided

Heat one 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  While the skillet is heating, sift together the flour through the xanthan gum.  Cut in the 1/4 cup margarine with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine meal.  Add the coconut milk and stir until a semi-stiff dough forms.  Cut the dry bits into the dough if needed with a fork or the side of a mixing spoon.  Your dough should feel good - not sticky and not dry.  You should be able to play with it without it sticking to your hands.


Dump the dough onto a piece of wax paper that is as big as your skillet.  Knead the dough a couple of times into a ball, then pat flat into a circle about the diameter of your skillet, about 1/2 inch high.  Smooth out the raggedy edges.

Melt 1 tbsp. coconut oil in the skillet and swirl to cover the bottom of the skillet.  Carefully pick up the wax paper and transfer the dough to the skillet, flipping the dough into the skillet and peeling the wax paper off the top.  


Cover the skillet and cook about 10 minutes, or until the top looks dry and the bottom, when lifted carefully with a spatula, looks nice and browned on the bottom.  Carefully flip the bread over.  Leave it uncovered.  Spread the remaining 2 tbsp. coconut oil over the top of the skillet bread.  

 

Cook another several minutes until the bottom is browned.  Transfer the skillet bread from the skillet to a cutting board and let cool for several minutes, until warm (not hot).  Cut into wedges with a serrated knife and serve warm.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Tails to You


Meet Cookie, the newest member of our family.

When I say member of the family, I mean that Cookie will be a part of my classroom this coming year.  Because DH hates anything cute and furry.  (He really needs to be bald, with a long goatee, and at least one tattoo, and big clunky Docs, to be claiming intolerance of cute furry animals. Well, two out of four isn't bad.  But I digress.)


I believe that pets are good for kids.  They can teach lots of things - love, tolerance, patience, responsibility.  When met with DH's resistance, I started to think outside of the box.  (What box?)  If a small furry rodent would be a good experience for my kids, well it would be a good experience for my "other" kids.  Middle schoolers love small pets.  Usually small pets are found in second and third grade classrooms, maybe fourth grade.  But middle school?  Everyone expects them to be all grown up, when deep down inside all they want is some cute furry animal to talk to.  Problem solved.


We bought Cookie early last week.  She was cute and small, with ears that lay flat and wavy against her head.  The cat is enthralled and at the same time repulsed.  In a week, Cookie has grown to twice her "original" size, and her ears now stick straight up from her head.  Hello, cute!  We are trying to handle her as much as she will tolerate, to get her used it before going to school.  She loves to take a spin in her ball, which the cat hates.  The hamster knows this and will make a beeline for the cat at every opportunity.

Cookie is a bit of a diva.  I will need to help her to acclimate to many voices and lots of action..  After all, she will be a working hamster, one whose primary purpose will be to teach.  Last year we had a class alien, and we explored his "otherness"  and origins.  This year we will have a class hamster, whose happy Habitrail home looks a little alien itself.  We will be doing creative and descriptive writing about the hamster in class.  She is tri-colored, which will help.  We'll draw pictures of her too, to aid us in our writing. What is not to love?  I mean - cute whiskers, sticky-up ears, a butt that waggles when she runs in her wheel?  So awesome.  I'm really excited about our hamster.

I wish I could say the cat is also excited about our hamster.  And DH.  But I work with what I have.  Middle school, here we come.

Monday, June 9, 2014

To Every Thing There Is a Season

School has been out for a week.  Today starts week two of summer vacation.  I was busy all last week at school moving my classroom around, cleaning and painting.  I kept adding to my long list of things to do at home after I got all my things to do at school crossed off.  This weekend I was poised to be busy tackling my home chores and I totally didn't.  I slept in and read books in bed instead.  I fluffed off my chores in a big way and guess what?  I didn't care.  This past year has been one long marathon, and I'm tired.  I'm going to take a break, thank you very much.  I just want to be.  I want to be with my children.  I want to enjoy their company.  Am I going to spend this summer running around like a nut zipping from one activity to the next?  Nope, nope, nope.  I am going to relax, and breathe.  At least for a little while, anyway.  I am already thinking about lesson plans and activities for next school year, which is not as far away as it looks.  I have been thinking about next school year for at least a month already.  In fact, I feel like I have so much to do to get prepared that it's making me feel nauseated.  For now, however, I'm putting all that on a shelf, and I will just be.

Besides having an intense desire to read voraciously, I want to be in the kitchen.  Yesterday I turned some old, dry carrots into carrot bread.  This morning I was trying to make spicy pickled apricots but the apricots disintegrated after simmering for a couple of minutes, and I ended up with spicy apricot infused vinegar instead, which was kind of fun in the end.  A friend gave us a few pounds of very ripe peaches, which I turned into peach chutney.  I made no bake cookies for the kids.  I am about to make sandwich bread, after weeks of sending the girls to school with dosas for lunch.  I am happy to be slowing down enough to get reaquainted with my kitchen again.  There was just not enough time, energy or interest to do much in the kitchen this past year, which you can see reflected in the lack of blog posts.  At first I felt neglectful of this body of recipes I've built for the past 6 years.  But a lot of things have changed in 6 years, and I'm ready to let go of some things and ready to embrace others.  It's okay.  My girls are older, at a different stage in life, and so am I.  I'm not as angsty about autism, or adhd, or food allergies and intolerances.  As an old boss used to say, it is what it is.  I feel myself mellowing in a lot of ways.  I had another boss long ago, who I admired immensely.  He was smart and kind and full of a fire I could identify with.  Over the years as he got older, the fire cooled and he mellowed out.  Back then it upset me, I thought he was going soft.  Now as I'm getting older, I can see it happening to me, and I recognize its value. 

When I started this blog, there were not a whole lot of people baking without gluten and casein.  Now there are legion.  As I shift my focus to other things, it just does not seem that important to try to keep up anymore.  In a way it's sad.  In another way, it's liberating.  I'm doing something new and creative and that's invigorating.  I'll probably pop back in from time to time with little updates or recipes I can't keep to myself.  But I expect mostly to be quiet.  I expect I'll be in a different way, and I'm looking forward to it.

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.)