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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spinach with Chickpeas

This recipe is one of the reasons I keep a package of frozen chopped spinach in the freezer at all times. Usually I prefer using fresh spinach, but when the day has been busy and I have no time to think about dinner (or when I am just plain tired and don't feel like cooking), I reach for this recipe. It takes just minutes to prepare, it hits the spot, and it's healthy to boot. Well, I usually like to cook up dried chickpeas too but the canned ones work in a pinch. It's healthier than take-out, anyway!

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
3 - 4 cloves minced garlic
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. dry white wine
1 can drained chick peas
1 thawed 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
rice or gluten free pasta to serve

Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Cook the onion in the hot oil until soft. Add the garlic, cook one minute more. Stir together the cayenne through the paprika and add it to the onion mixture in the pot. Toss to coat. Add the white wine, cook 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and the spinach (preferably squeezed dry, but I often throw it in there as is and let the liquid cook out, which takes just a couple of minutes). Cook until heated through and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot over rice or pasta.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mushroom Spring Rolls

This recipe is based on the one I found here. I used mushrooms instead of ground pork and liked the result. They are good soft, but I also wanted to try them crispy. I tried baking the spring rolls at a high temperature (per the original recipe) to get them crispy without frying them and this failed miserably. They turned out gummy, not crispy at all. If you want crispy spring rolls, you need to fry them - which is what I ended up doing after all, to DH's delight.

8 0z baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and diced

1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup shredded carrot
3 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. sake
1 tbsp. sweet chili sauce
2 tsp grated ginger root
2 small cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
12 rice paper wrappers

Dip rice paper one by one in a bowl of warm water until just beginning to soften. Layer on damp paper towels, set aside. The rice paper will continue to soften as you prepare the filling.

Toss together the mushrooms through the garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling onto one side of a rice paper wrapper. Bring the top and bottom of the paper down to cover the filling, then roll from one side to the other. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Serve spring rolls as is with sweet chili sauce on the side (this is the way I like them).

Or fry the spring rolls (this is the way my husband likes them): Heat oil to 375 degrees. Combine a tablespoon of cornstarch and a tablespoon of water, brush the seams of the spring rolls with this mixture to seal them. Let dry before frying. When the oil is hot, fry spring rolls one or two at a time until crispy, turning in the hot oil as needed. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with sweet chili sauce on the side.

GFCF Lemon Turkey Soup with Spinach and Pasta

This is my favorite turkey soup recipe. It's easy and fast - it takes about 20 minutes to throw this soup together, which is great for busy days. I've made it before using fresh chopped parsley instead of the spinach (see picture), which I also really like. The original recipe can be found here.

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 1/2 cups GF pasta
2 cups diced cooked turkey
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 thawed 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach OR 6 cups chopped fresh spinach OR 1/4 cup packed fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in dutch oven. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until soft. Add garlic, cook 1 minute more. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender. Turn off the heat and add the turkey, lemon juice and spinach or parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Curried Rice Stuffing

This recipe makes 12 servings - enough to stuff a large 12 - 16 pound turkey. I served this as a side dish instead of stuffing a turkey, and it was very good. The original recipe was featured in Yankee Magazine, November 2005.

2 tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp. Thai Kitchen green curry paste
1 quart chicken broth
1 cup golden raisins, if desired
1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Heat oil in a dutch oven and cook onion until soft. Add the rice and the cinnamon, tossing to coat. Combine the coconut milk and the curry paste and whisk until smooth. Pour over the rice and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth and stir. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 50 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Add the raisins and the nuts if desired and toss to combine. Serve hot.

All Purpose Sorghum and Millet Blend

This is my preferred blend for making muffins, quick breads and one-layer cakes.

3 cups sorghum flour
1 cup millet flour
1 1/3 cups potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca starch

Sift together all ingredients until well blended. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mock Peanut Blossoms

Hershey's Kisses on top of peanut butter cookies have always screamed "holidays" to me, so I really wanted to make them for my kids. Making the substitutions was easy enough - except for the Hershey's Kisses. So I ended up buying "safe" dark chocolate (Baker's semi-sweet), melted it, and poured it into a chocolate mold. This is messier than it sounds, and I'm not a fan of candy-making. But the results came out pretty and my girls were very impressed by the chocolate hearts sitting on top of the cashew butter cookies. I think this is their favorite holiday cookie so far.

1 package Baker's semi-sweet chocolate squares
1/2 cup palm shortening

3/4 cup cashew butter

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

2 tbsp. rice milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. salt

sugar for coating

Place chocolate squares in a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir chocolate until melted and smooth. Pour chocolate into a plastic baggie. Snip off a corner of the baggie and pipe chocolate into a chocolate mold. Cool chocolate completely (about 30 minutes in the refrigerator). When cool, pop chocolate out of the mold and set aside.*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt, set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and cashew butter until combined. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg, rice milk and vanilla, beat well. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar.

Place cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake cookies about 10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately place chocolate pieces on top of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool (the chocolate will take awhile to cool completely).

*I had some leftover melted chocolate after filling the chocolate molds...what better excuse is there to make Stuffed Pecans?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Candy Cane Cookies

This recipe is one I copied from my mother-in-law's stash many years ago. I like it because the girls can enjoy their "candy canes", without the sugar shock of traditional candy canes.

1 cup palm shortening or shortening/ghee blend
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
2 1/2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
red food coloring
green food coloring

Peppermint Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp. peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour and xanthan gum, set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract and peppermint extract, beat well. Add the flour mixture and beat until well combined. Divide dough in half. Stir in red food coloring into one half, and green food coloring into the other half (about 8 drops each or until the colors please you). Cover and chill about 30 minutes.

For each cookie, take a teaspoon of red dough and roll into a 4 inch rope. Repeat with green dough. Place ropes side by side and twist them together. Pinch ends to seal. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and form into a cane. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Bake about 10 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet one minute before carefully removing to a wire rack to cool.

While the cookies are still warm, make the peppermint glaze: combine the powdered sugar, peppermint extract and enough water to make the glaze brushing consistency (it should be watery, not like frosting). Brush cookies with glaze. Cool cookies completely and store in an airtight container.

Russian Tea Cookies

This recipe is from one of those ubiquitous church cookbooks - as I cut it out and pasted it onto an index card, I can't remember it's origin. But it's just like the cookies my Nanny used to serve at Christmas time, so I like them. The girls like them too.

1 cup palm shortening or shortening/ghee blend
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup walnut or pecan meal

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat together the shortening, sugar and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Sift together the flour through the salt. Add to the shortening mixture and mix well. Stir in the nuts.

With floured hands roll dough into 1 inch balls (add a little bit more flour if the dough is too sticky - it should feel tacky, not dry). Place on an ungreased baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake about 10 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool 2 minutes.

While still warm, roll the cookies in powdered sugar. Place on a wire rack to cool. When they are cool, sift a little more powdered sugar over the cookies. Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Easy Linzer Bars

This is one of my favorite holiday cookie recipes. They may look like a lot of work, but they're not!

2 cups GF flour blend
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 cup palm shortening, shortening/ghee blend or coconut oil
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. orange peel
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/3 cup walnut meal
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two baking sheets with cooking spray, set aside.

Sift together the flour through the xanthan gum, set aside.

Heat shortening or coconut oil, corn syrup and orange peel over low heat until melted and smooth. Stir into flour mixture until well blended. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Place two pieces onto each baking sheet.

Pat each dough piece into a long rope. Make an indentation down the center of each rope, molding slightly. Combine the jam and the walnut meal and fill the indentations with the jam mixture. Bake about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and immediately cut into 1 inch wide slices. Cool slightly.

Combine the powdered sugar and the orange juice. Drizzle the sugar mixture over the warm cookies. Cool completely.

Pfeffernusse Cookies

These cookies are popular, especially with kids.

1/2 cup palm shortening

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
3 1/4 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, set aside.

Sift together the flour through the pepper, set aside.

Beat shortening and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in molasses and egg until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat until well blended. Shape level tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake cookies about 12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on the baking sheet, then dust with powdered sugar. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Buckwheat Pancakes

I like pancakes that are thick and fluffy, and these pancakes are just that.

3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour or tapioca flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup rice milk
1 egg
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Sift together the dry ingredients and make a well in the center. Combine the rice milk through the vanilla and add all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened - do not overmix. Thin with a little rice milk if needed.

Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto a hot, greased griddle. Flatten into rounds and cook for a couple of minutes until golden brown on the bottom, then flip and cook a couple minutes more (these pancakes won't form little air bubbles the way other pancakes do). Serve hot with fresh fruit and powdered sugar, jam, honey or maple syrup.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baking without Eggs

I bake with eggs (update - as of May 2010, this is no longer the case - I am now baking without eggs!). However, I've fielded a few questions as to what to use to replace eggs in baked goods. So I'm going to post here the different kinds of egg substitutes that can be used in baking, and set this list aside in my notebook for future reference. My girls have a very low IgE reaction to eggs and if that has risen at all since their last tests, we'll be going egg free as well. It's always good to be prepared, just in case.

Egg substitutes work well when replacing one or two eggs in a recipe. If you try replacing more than two eggs, the integrity of the baked good may suffer. Also keep in mind that nothing quite does the same trick that eggs do, so be prepared for a baked good that is a little denser than you are used to. You may also need to play around a bit - some subs work well in some recipes but may make others gummy.

I have compiled a list (below) of different egg substitutes for baking. All the replacements listed below are equal to 1 whole egg. Double the amounts given if you are replacing two eggs.

Ener-G Egg Replacer is a commercial egg substitute that I choose not to use. However if you choose to use it, simply follow the package directions for replacing eggs.

For cakes:
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp. warm water, blend until thickened. Also try adding 1/8 tsp. baking powder to this mixture.

For cookies:
1/4 tsp. baking soda + 1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup maple syrup, and decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe by 1/4 - 1/2 cup.

For pancakes, waffles, muffins and quick breads:
1/2 a large mashed banana + 1/4 tsp. baking powder

3 tbsp. applesauce, fruit butter or other fruit puree + 1/4 tsp. baking powder

Other substitutions:
In addition to replacing the egg in a recipe, try adding an extra 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. baking powder per egg if not in the egg replacer you are using (limit to a total of 1 tsp. leavening per cup of flour). Also try lightening the baked good by adding air (cream together the sugar and shortening in a recipe until light and fluffy before adding dry ingredients) - although some baked goods do much better with canola oil than shortening when made egg-free.

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin dissolved in 1 tbsp. warm water. Add 2 tbsp. boiling water, beat until frothy.

1 tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot + 3 tbsp. water

3 tbsp. egg-free mayonnaise

1 tsp. yeast dissolved in 3 tbsp. warm water

1 tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot + 2 tbsp. water + 2 tsp. canola oil + 1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 tbsp. warm water + 1 tbsp. potato starch or tapioca starch + 1/2 tbsp. shortening + 3/4 tsp. baking powder

2 tbsp. water + 1 tbsp. canola oil + 2 tsp. baking powder

For those who can use soy:
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup pureed silken tofu

My favorite egg substitutes happen to be fruit purees, gelatin, flax meal and maple syrup or honey with a little extra leavening thrown in for good measure.

My sources (for more great tips, visit these sites below!):
The Cooking Inn
Fitness and Freebies
The Cook's Thesaurus
Pioneer Thinking

I recommend:
Gluten Free Goddess - 2/3 of the way down this particular page read about replacing the fat in the egg with a little bit of oil, using rice milk instead of water for more nutrition, and being wary of using a fruit puree to replace egg in a recipe that already has fruit puree in it.

Also, see here for more tips from Karina on baking substitutions.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

GFCF Gingerbread People

Here I've adapted an old favorite recipe for gingerbread cookies. The orange extract gives them a lovely, delicate flavor.

1/2 cup palm shortening

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1 large egg

1 tsp. orange extract

2 1/2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)

2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, set aside.

Beat shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses, then the egg until well combined. Add the orange extract and mix well. The mixture will look curdled.
Sift together the flour through the salt. Add to the wet mixture and beat into a smooth, stiff dough. Divide the dough in half. Place half the dough onto a floured piece of wax paper and knead a few times until no longer sticky. Roll the dough to 1/3 inch thick. Cut into shapes and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake cookies about 10 - 12 minutes or until the edges are very lightly browned and the cookies look set. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before decorating.

GFCF Cumin and Caraway Crackers

This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 tsp. ground caraway seed
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 cup palm shortening
1/3 cup rice milk
1 beaten egg white
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour through the coriander. Place in a food processor. Add shortening and process until blended. Add rice milk until the mixture forms a dough - do not over-process.

Transfer dough to a floured piece of wax paper. Roll to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into squares with a knife. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Prick all over with the tines of a fork, brush with egg white and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake about 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chocolate Meringue Clouds

This recipe is great for using up leftover egg whites from making Jolly Jam Bars. These cookies are a pleasant change from heavier holiday fare - airy, delicate, and melt-in-your-mouth.

3 egg whites at room temperature

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup mini casein free chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Sift together the sugar and the cocoa. Beat in the vanilla into the egg whites. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the egg white mixture, beating continuously, until soft peaks hold, the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is glossy. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop meringue by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes or until just dry (bottoms should be only very, very lightly golden). Cool slightly on the baking sheet before peeling the cookies off the parchment paper. Store covered at room temperature.

Jolly Jam Bars

This is a recipe from one of my old tattered recipe cards. It came from one of my mom's old tattered recipe cards. I always did like this recipe, it's a good one for kids. So I made it for my girls, not thinking DH would be too impressed (especially after the conversion to being gluten, casein and soy free). Well, he was impressed. He tasted it and unsolicited, exclaimed "Wow, these are really good!". And Anna, well, she just inhaled her piece. This recipe is a keeper.

1 cup
shortening/ghee blend
1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks
2 cups GF flour blend (I used
this one)
1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 cup walnut meal

1/2 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9x9x2 inch baking pan with cooking spray, set aside.

Cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, beat until well combined. Sift together the flour through the walnut meal and add to the egg mixture, blending well.

Divide the dough in half. Press one half of the dough onto the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Top with the jam, spreading evenly. Cover the jam with the remaining dough - I do this by taking small chunks and flattening them in the palms of my hands, then laying them on the jam layer. It's easy to take small pieces and fill in the gaps, and while it bakes the dough will come together so that there are not cracks or openings in the top crust.
Bake about 45 minutes or until the top is golden. Cool and cut into bars.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Spicy Potato Curry

DH handed me this recipe on a piece of paper one day after week a couple of weeks ago. He told me one of his colleagues told him we would really like it (Abby, you were right - this is soooo yummy!). I modified the original recipe a little bit to make it less spicy, and it was still very spicy (too spicy for me, but not for DH or Megan!). Next time I'll cut back even more on the cayenne pepper so I can have more than just a little bit of it without having my mouth turn to fire (perhaps to Megan's chagrin, but I can add more cayenne to her dish if she likes!). This dish is fast and easy to make and has entered our rotation of favorite recipes.

1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed OR 1 1/2 cups cauliflower
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, depending on your taste
2 tsp. garam masala
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15oz can garbanzo beans, drained AND/OR 1/2 package thawed frozen spinach
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 14oz can coconut milk (I used lite, but regular will make it extra creamy)

Cook potatoes (or cauliflower) in boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the ginger, toss and cook for 1 minute. Toss together the cumin through the salt and add to the onion mixture, stirring to coat. Add the tomatoes, garbanzo beans and/or spinach, peas, coconut milk and potatoes and simmer until hot. Serve over rice or cooked cooked quinoa (I prefer the quinoa).

*Fresh ginger root is best, but if you can't find it (like I often can't), try The Ginger People's Grated Ginger, a pantry essential!

~~~~~~~~~~~Update 12/19/08~~~~~~~~~~~
I LOVE this recipe. It's a kitchen sink recipe! Tonight I made it with cauliflower instead of potatoes, chopped spinach instead of garbanzo beans, less cayenne (1/4 tsp.), and served it over a bed of quinoa instead of rice. It was fabulous!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Polenta with Eggs

Today a friend treated me to breakfast. A couple of days ago she asked if I would like polenta with eggs (in all it's gluten free goodness) for breakfast. I said - yum! I've never made polenta. It's just not a northeast kind of food (not where I'm from, anyway). I've had polenta with mushrooms for dinner once before (made by another friend, and very delicious). But polenta with eggs sounded very homey, and right up my alley.

So I watched as she made it. She sauteed some scallions in a little oil, added boiling chicken broth and yellow grits and stirred for a few minutes. While it thickened, she more or less poached a few eggs. And she served it just like that.

Honestly, with just a little bit of salt, this breakfast was near heaven. I put my egg on top of the polenta and broke the yoke on top of it. The yolk soaked into the polenta below and lo, it was good. I'm going to go out and buy grits straight away tomorrow morning and make this dish first chance I get for DH this weekend.

1 cup Arrowhead Mills Yellow Corn Grits
1/2 bunch scallions, white and pale green parts chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 1/2 cups water or chicken stock
1 tsp. salt
eggs - however many you want

Saute scallions in a bit of olive oil until fragrant.Add the water or stock and bring to a boil. Add the grits. Simmer until the grits begin to thicken. Add more broth as necessary. Simmer it about 15 minutes stirring frequently, until it looks like thick hot cereal, then remove from the heat.

While the polenta simmers, cook up your eggs over-easy or sunny-side up. Spoon some polenta onto a plate. It should not look glumpy or thick, but not runny either. Really it should look like lava...spreading out a little bit on the plate, but not thin enough to spread very far. It should smell fabulous and buttery rich, although there is no butter in it at all. Top the polenta with your egg. Sprinkle with salt, serve, and enjoy.

Save the leftover polenta in a container. It will thicken up a lot - you can slice it and fry it up later and serve it sort of like a finger food. You can top it with meat sauce, or drizzle honey over it, or whatever your heart desires...I'm sure it will be all good.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cocoa Snowflakes

Happy December! The start of this month kicks off weeks of frenzied baking for me. I have SO many holiday recipes, there's no possible way I can convert them all this year. But I can make a sizable dent, and started to do that today.

I'm tossing around the idea of using ghee in my holiday baking. Ghee is clarified butter...the whey solids and dairy protein separate out and what is left is a clear golden oil. You can buy it with a great "Casein Free!" label on it (which inflates the price a lot). Purity Farms sells a certified casein free ghee. I might try it.

Here is an fast and easy holiday recipe (Penzey's, adapted) that pleases kids and adults alike. The baked cookies have a very pretty, lacy "snowflake" pattern on their tops. I used coconut oil for this recipe. It lends a slight coconut flavor to these cookies, which I like. If you don't, then substitute palm shortening (or ghee, if you like) instead. And happy baking!

1 cup GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. coconut oil
6 tbsp. natural cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray, set aside.

Sift together the flour through the salt, set aside.

In a large microwavable bowl, heat the coconut oil on high for about 30 seconds, or until just melted. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Stir in the sugar, then the vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture to the cocoa mixture and mix until well combined.

Place powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Drop the cookie dough by heaping teaspoons into the powdered sugar and roll to coat. Shape into balls with your hands and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until puffed and only just set to the touch. Let cool in pan 1 minute before removing to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.