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

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Casein Free, Soy Free, Gluten Free Cheese (Daiya!)


I didn't think it would ever happen! There is a mozzarella style cheese that we can eat! I was resigned to a lifetime of no cheese on our pizza (which tastes just fine, but looks a little funny). There is now another vegan cheese out there besides Galaxy's Vegan Rice Cheese that is safe for those of us who need to avoid casein, soy, gluten, and corn (and it happens to be rice free too). I am over the moon about this!

So what started my search for another cheese was this: in October, our local Whole Foods had only 4 packages of the Galaxy Rice Vegan cheese left in stock. I snapped up all four packages because my kids love this stuff and I was afraid there was some snafu in the ordering process. In effect, there was, but I had to find that out by myself - even after asking the Customer Service Desk people and leaving my phone number and a plea for mercy to have them tell me where the cheese had gone, nobody ever got back to me and the cheese was never re-stocked. I'm still miffed about this. Some customer service, eh?

So after two months of pestering Whole Foods to give up the information I was seeking (with no luck!), I went looking for Galaxy retailers online. All the cheese was out of stock...some sort of re-packaging/production issue. Panicked, I started searching for an alternative. I found some Edward and Son's Chreese at another local store. I bought it because The Bon Bon Gazette had given it a good review. It had a very interesting "this tastes strangely yeasty with a cheesy afterthought", which wasn't bad. But Anna hated it and it gave me heartburn, so that was not an option for us.

Back to the drawing board, I ran across other bloggers raving about Daiya Vegan Cheese, which can be found in some pizza joints. Daiya only sells to food service for now (although they will retail their cheese to us little people in the spring!). But I had to have some. I was so desperate that I ended up ordering the Italian style flavor from Vegan Essentials, a whole 5 pound block that cost me $50 after shipping! Although I have to say, Vegan Essentials rocks, they were helpful and polite and gave me the best price on 2-day shipping - I would order from them again in a heartbeat. I was a little nervous ordering that much cheese we've never tried. A friend had tried the Daiya on a pizza at a restaurant and said it tasted terrible. But I took a chance because 1) she can still eat cheese and we can't so there's a taste preferential there and 2) the restaurant likely served pre-shredded cheese and what I was reading online was the pre-shredded stuff didn't melt as well as the block you shred yourself.

The cheese came in the mail (with a newly-redone package of Galaxy Vegan Rice cheese which Vegan Essentials had but Whole Foods did not!). I ripped open the Daiya and...guess what?! It tastes like cheese! It's so great! It has the right saltiness, the right color, the right taste, which is mild with a hint of parmesan. Better yet, it melts beautifully, just like real cheese, and it stays melted! Galaxy's Rice Vegan cheese melts but then firms up immediately, which is fine for sandwiches. But Daiya's cheese stays melted which is fabulous for quesadillas and pizza and cheese sauce! Even DH and casein-chugging friends thought it tasted good. It even freezes and thaws with no problems. I'm so happy!

Here's the kicker - Megan likes the cheese on sandwiches and pizza. I love it any way I can have it. Anna can't stand it, and it's not a taste thing, it's a texture thing. She is so far removed from the memory of real cheese that she just can't handle the difference between Galaxy and Daiya. I hope that over time she'll get used to the awesome meltiness that is Daiya, but for now Megan and I have it all to ourselves.

And oh yeah, that Galaxy Vegan Rice cheese? I finally found it at our local Whole Foods yesterday. There were only 8 packages on the shelf. I snapped them all up, for Anna's sake. And I don't feel bad about that one bit.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

GFCF Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

I made these the other day. Don't they look delish? The original recipe is by Living Without (here). I added strawberry jam because a chocolate cookie with a completely chocolate center seemed like too much to me (I like chocolate as much as any other gal, but only a little at a time). And then I added a little sugar to roll the cookie dough in to make them pretty. You can roll them in powdered sugar which will make them look like Cocoa Snowflakes. And can I say again that these are delish? They are like little chocolate pillows cradling little chocolate-strawberry covered centers. Yum.

Dry ingredients
1 1/4 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder (not dutch)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt

Wet ingredients
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup vanilla-flavored rice milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup granulated or powdered sugar for rolling

Filling
strawberry jam
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, set aside.

Whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients and mix until completely blended (I did this with a fork). The batter will be dry and crumbly, forming medium and small sized clumps. Do not add more liquid unless the batter is too dry to roll into balls with your hands.

Form the dough into inch-sized balls with your hands. The dough will not be sticky. Roll the balls in the sugar and place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake cookies 5 minutes. Remove from oven and make thumbprint wells into each cookie. Fill the wells with 1/4 tsp. strawberry jam (more or less). Return the cookies to the oven and bake another 10 minutes, or until the jam is melted and the bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned.

Cool the cookies in the pan until the jam is no longer molten. While the cookies cool, heat the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1 minute on high. Stir the chips. If they don't melt with stirring, return to the microwave another 15 seconds and stir again until the chips are melted and completely smooth.

Take about 1/4 tsp. melted chocolate and drop onto the jam in the center of each cookie. Swirl the chocolate until it is a thin layer covering the strawberry jam centers. Remove the cookies from the pan to a wire rack and let the chocolate cool. The chocolate will harden and the jam will stay soft. Store in an airtight container for a couple of days, if they last that long.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

GFCF Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

A friend of mine went away for Thanksgiving and came back with 40 pounds of sweet potatoes. Last week she unloaded some on me, whoo-hoo! There's nothing like a sudden excess of sweet potatoes laying around to stir the creative juices. Well, I wasn't terribly creative myself, but I found some great sweet potato recipes online. Like this one for Turkey Sweet-Potato Shepherd's Pie by Rachel Ray. It sounded interesting, and with a couple of modifications it turned out pretty good. I might even make mashed sweet potatoes this way (with some chipotle pepper thrown in) regularly because I like them so much. The original recipe called for adding bananas to the potatoes, but trust me, the chipotle is much better. It takes about 30 minutes to get this non-fussy dish on the table from start to finish.

Filling
1 tbsp. olive oil
one package ground turkey (about 20 oz.)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp.dried marjoram
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 cup frozen peas

Gravy
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. potato starch
2 cups chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste

Topping
generous 2 pounds sweet potatoes
2 - 4 tbsp. gravy (above) or chicken broth
dash salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper, depending on your taste*

Make the filling
Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-low heat. Crumble the ground turkey into the pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt, pepper, marjoram and thyme. Cook until turkey is browned and vegetables are soft. Turn off the heat, add the frozen peas. Set aside.

Make the gravy
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the potato starch until well-blended. Slowly whisk in the chicken stock. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour about 1 1/2 cups of gravy into the turkey mixture and stir well. Set aside the remaining gravy. Pour the turkey mixture into a large casserole dish, set aside.

Make the topping
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into medium chunks. Steam until soft, about 10 minutes in the microwave. Mash the sweet potatoes with 2 - 4 tbsp. of the leftover gravy or chicken broth. Add the salt and the ground chipotle and mix well. Adjust seasonings to taste. Spread the sweet potatoes on top of the turkey mixture in the casserole dish.

Place the shepherd's pie under the broiler until topping begins to brown. Remove from oven and serve hot.

*Next time, instead of using ground chipotle I will add a little adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

GFCF Sweet Potato Biscuits

I've been trying to make good sweet potato biscuits for almost two years. I have this one great recipe for them that has not converted well - my gf/cf versions always turned out dense and heavy. But today I found myself with 6 pounds of sweet potatoes and a hankering for biscuits, so I tried again using this Food Network recipe as my guide. And I'm excited to report that my biscuits turned out great! They are light and fluffy inside and they taste really good. These biscuits don't rise too much, but they are light and not dense in the least. And the crumb is really pretty, I think!


1 1/3 cups GF flour blend
2 tsp. sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum (I used 1 1/2 tsp. guar gum to keep them corn-free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup dairy free, soy free margarine or shortening
3/4 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
¼ cup rice milk, plus more for brushing biscuits

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together flour through the pepper. Cut in the margarine with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Place the mashed sweet potato in a liquid measuring cup, pressing down slightly to make sure they reach the ¾ cup mark. Add the rice milk and stir. The liquid ingredients should measure 1 cup. Add a little more rice milk if needed to equal 1 cup. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture. Blend with a fork to make a soft dough – it should not be sticky or dry.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead three times until the dough looks smooth. Pat the dough out to approximately a 5x5 inch square, 1/2-inch thick. With a sharp knife cut the square into 9 equal pieces. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. Brush tops of biscuits with a little rice milk. Bake about 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool for a minute on a wire rack before serving warm.

GFCF Chicken Potpie


The other day I made Crock Pot Chicken. I saved the cooking liquid/chicken broth and some white meat, intending to make chicken soup with the leftovers. Instead I ran across an old recipe for Old Fashioned Chicken Potpie by Cooking Light. Normally I'm not a potpie kind of girl, but the weather was cold and although I was in the mood for some homey chicken dish, I was feeling a little bored with chicken soup. So I decided to go for the potpie.

The original recipe called for 1/2 cup flour to be added to the chicken broth to make a thick gravy (slurry!) and that sounded really unappealing. So instead of the flour I added red lentils and leftover rice. I really liked the result - it was thick and hearty, but DH thought it needed a little more liquid. So next time I'll use red lentils OR cooked rice. The red lentils don't take long to cook, they dissolve nicely and they lend a pretty color to the dish.

I will admit to saving the fat from skimming the chicken broth. I had just watched Jennifer from Top Chef Las Vegas make duck cooked in its own fat to "honor the duck". So I decided to honor my chicken and used its fat for the potpie crust. The crust turned out mighty tasty, let me tell you! Not only did it have lots more flavor than shortening or margarine , it made the crust a pleasure to work with. I won't be doing that very often, but once in awhile I think chicken fat, or bacon fat for that matter, is okay (and economical!).

Filling
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 large carrots, thickly chopped
1 large russet potato, or two medium red potatoes, cubed
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup red lentils OR 1/2 cup cooked rice
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage

Crust
1 cup GF flour blend (I used High Protein Blend)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup dairy free, soy free margarine or shortening (or chicken fat, if you have it!)
3 tbsp. cold water
1 tsp. cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set aside a casserole dish, about 1 1/2 quarts.

For the filling:
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and carrot, cooking until onion is translucent. Add the potato, cover and cook 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook uncovered 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, lemon juice and lentils. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook 15 minutes (skip the simmering if using cooked rice instead of lentils). Turn off the heat and add the chicken through the sage. Adjust seasonings to taste. Pour into the casserole dish, set aside.


For the crust:
Sift together the flour and the salt. Add the margarine or other fat and cut with a pastry knife until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water and the vinegar and mix with a fork until well-blended - it should not be sticky or dry. Turn onto a piece of wax paper and knead a couple of times until the dough is smooth. Roll the dough, coating the rolling pin with flour as necessary, to about 1/4 inch and about 1/2 inch larger than the casserole dish. Pick up the wax paper and flip the crust on top of the casserole filling. Peel off the wax paper gently. Roll the overhanging crust into the casserole dish, staying as close to the sides as possible.


Bake the potpie:
Flute the edges of the crust. Vent with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Place the casserole in the oven - it is a good idea to put tin foil on a lower rack to catch drips. Bake about 45 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

(The crust is a pretty color, no?The chickpea flour in the blend I used makes the crust easy to work with but if you don't like chickpea flour, try All Purpose Sorghum Blend instead.)


Friday, December 11, 2009

GFCF Chocolate Graham Crackers


A friend requested a little while ago that I make her son a batch of graham crackers he could take with him on a Boy Scout camping trip, so he could enjoy s'mores around the campfire with the rest of his group. I decided to make them chocolate - a little extra special. I'm sure he must have been thinking "my graham crackers are better than yours!" at the campfire. I certainly think so! I love the way the crumb looks just like "regular" graham crackers, and I like the way they taste - not too sweet and not too decadent.


To make these, I tweaked the graham cracker recipe I already have posted here. Another special thanks to In the Life of a Child for sharing the original recipe! I advise against chilling the dough, which makes it difficult to roll out to an even thickness. Set aside enough time to make the dough, roll it out, cut it and bake it - it's worth it.

1/3 cup palm shortening
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup chickpea flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup rice milk

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

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Sift together the chickpea flour through the salt. Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture one cup at a time, blending well until all three cups have been incorporated and mixture looks like fine meal (I did this in my Kitchen Aid but you could also do this with a food processor).

Add the rice milk or coconut milk a little at a time (in a small stream if using a Kitchen Aid or food processor and your hands are free). You might not need the whole 1/2 cup of liquid. Add just enough until the dough clumps together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It should resemble cookie dough. It should not be very sticky.

Divide dough into thirds. Working with 1/3 of the dough at a time, knead a few times on floured wax paper (I used All Purpose Sorghum Blend for flouring). Roll dough into the shape of a rectangle to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Trim the edges to straighten. Cut the dough into squares with a knife or have fun using cookie cutters to make shapes. Using a floured spatula, transfer crackers to the prepared baking sheet.

Prick each cracker 4-6 times with the tines of a fork. Brush tops with a little rice milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and the crackers are set. Remove crackers to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Store cooled crackers in an airtight container.

*If you overbake some crackers, don't worry - save them and use them to make a graham cracker pie crust.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Orange Breakfast Bread

This is one of my favorite breakfast breads. The original recipe (I can't remember where it's from) called for butter, yogurt and wheat germ but palm shortening, coconut milk yogurt and rice bran work equally well. The rice bran makes the end result ever so slightly dense, in a good way. I've also substituted nut meal for the rice bran and that works well too, making the end result ever so slightly lighter than the rice bran. Either way, this bread tastes great.


1/3 cup palm shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. orange extract
1 tsp. grated orange rind
6 oz. coconut milk yogurt
1 2/3 cups GF flour blend (All Purpose Rice or All Purpose Sorghum work well)
1/2 cup rice bran
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.

Beat shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the orange extract, orange rind and coconut milk yogurt and mix until well blended. Set aside.

Sift together the flour blend, rice bran, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir until well combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Vegan Quinoa "Risotto"

I love everything about quinoa. I love its taste, texture and endless possibility. And now, I love it as "risotto". Here I've combined red with plain quinoa for texture but using all plain quinoa would make it creamier. To the quinoa I added the simple, everyday sauteed vegetables I had on hand but other vegetables would also work. To give the quinoa that extra creamy quality associated with traditional risotto, I added a cider dressing at the end. DH and I like the way this turned out. We had it plain for lunch but it'd be nice accompanied by a green salad, too.



2/3 cup plain quinoa
1/3 cup red quinoa (or plain, if desired)
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup Cider Vinaigrette, plus more as needed
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
fresh chopped parsley and chopped walnuts to serve, if desired

Combine quinoa, 1 tbsp. olive oil and vegetable broth in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch of salt and pepper if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 18 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn the heat off and leave the quinoa sit, covered, another five minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet. Cook the onion, celery and red pepper over medium-low heat until the onion is soft. Add the garlic, cook two minutes more.

Add the parsley and cooked vegetables to the quinoa and stir to combine. Add 1/3 cup of the cider vinaigrette, stirring until creamy, adding more vinaigrette as desired. Add the quartered tomatoes and toss. Serve with fresh parsley and chopped walnuts sprinkled on top, if desired.

Cider Vinaigrette

I've had this recipe sitting in my notebook for years. The original recipe is bundled with Field Salad, but I rarely make the salad. The vinaigrette, however, is good in many things - harvest salads, as a marinade for chicken, as a dipping sauce for nuggets, etc. My most recent, favorite thing to do with it is add it to Quinoa "Risotto". I imagine this vinaigrette will prove versatile for years to come.

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
pinch salt
pinch black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients until emulsified. Store in the refrigerator.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pumpkin Butter

I love fruit butters - apple, pear, cherry, you name it. I love pumpkin butter too. Although pumpkin is a vegetable, it makes a great jammy spread for everything from toast to pancakes...it's even good eaten plain with a spoon. I imagine it would be good warmed and used as a topping for ice cream, too. I've tried many different pumpkin butter recipes, and this one is my favorite.

Pumpkin butter on Applesauce Spice Bread

2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
3 tbsp. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan (I like using Le Creuset). Simmer very slowly for a few hours, uncovered, until the mixture has reduced to a thick spread. Cool before storing in the refrigerator for up to a week. Freeze leftovers.

GFCF Applesauce Spice Bread

This is one of my favorite quick breads. It's so easy to throw together and it comes out great every time.

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups GF flour blend
1 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup walnut meal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a loaf pan (8 inch) with cooking spray, set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the GF flour blend, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat applesauce, brown sugar and oil until well blended. Add egg and vanilla, beat well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in the walnut meal. Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Lime

What am I doing posting a lentil soup recipe on Thanksgiving Eve? Well, you can blame it on the kale.

I'm a newcomer to kale. I've had an irrational hatred of it since college, where Physical Plant dug up all the pretty flowers on campus and replaced them with ornamental kale. I thought they were ugly. And a vegetable, not a fair flower. Nothing about them looked fair or lovely to me at all. And nobody took care of them, so they looked even worse when they bolted. I've turned my nose up at kale for a long time even while knowing that kale is very nutritious. And then a friend served an Italian white bean soup with kale for dinner one night. I had to eat it or be extremely tactless. So I tried it. And I loved it. The soup was delicious and the kale was yummy, to say the least.

Ever since my friend forced me to eat kale, I've been a little obsessed with the stuff. I made a beef stew with harvest vegetables a few days ago and threw some kale in there. It was good, but not post-worthy. But this Red Lentil Soup with Mustard Greens and Lime at Rice of Life looked intriguing. So I made it today with a few changes and wow, is it ever good! I'm tempted to hide this soup in the back of the fridge and keep it all to myself. The tumeric gives the soup a pretty color and the lime juice really brightens the flavors. The original recipe calls for mustard greens, but any leafy green will work. I am partial to the kale, of course.

So this is the soup I will serve my friend. Take that, Italian white bean soup with kale.


2 cups red lentils
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 tbsp. tumeric
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
2 tsp. cumin
2/3 large bunch kale, washed, patted dry and chopped
juice of two limes, plus more to taste
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
cooked rice for serving, if desired

Place the vegetable broth, water, lentils, tumeric and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils are soft and start to dissolve, about 20 minutes. Add a little more water to thin if needed.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and mustard seed and cook until the onion is soft, about 15 minutes. Add the cumin and cook until fragrant, 1 or 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Scrape the onion mixture into the soup. Add the kale to the soup and stir. Simmer 5 - 10 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and soft. Turn off the heat. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper. Adjust lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice, if desired.

GFCF Cranberry Apricot Oat-free Cookies


This is originally a Penzey's recipe. I've replaced the coriander with cardamom and adapted it to be oat free as well as gluten and casein free because Megan is sensitive to oats. I just love using buckwheat in place of oats in my baking but if you don't, substitute 1 1/2 cups gluten free oats for the buckwheat. I also just love soft, chewy cookies and at first was afraid that these would be thin and crunchy but they turned out to be thin and chewy, which I like! So does Anna - every time she eats one of these cookies I'm afraid she's going to burst into song!

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup palm shortening
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup GF flour blend (I used this one)*
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup walnut meal or pecan meal
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup uncooked buckwheat hot cereal (I use Pocono Cream of Buckwheat)

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

Sift together the flour through the nut meal, set aside.

Cream together the sugars and the shortening. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture and beat until blended. Add the apricots, cranberries and uncooked buckwheat and stir until blended.

Scoop teaspoon (the kind you stir your coffee with, not the measuring spoon) sized balls of dough and drop them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet to allow for spreading. Bake about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet one minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes a little more than 2 dozen cookies.

*Next time I might add another 1/4 cup flour blend to see the cookies will puff up a bit more instead of flattening out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

GFCF Brown Sugar Butternut Pie

I have been a fan of this Cooking Light recipe for 10 years. Wow, I can't believe it's been that long! I fell in love with this silky squash pie before Anna was born...while DH was in grad school and I was working, and we had time and money to spend on dinner parties and hosting family for holiday meals. Having kids sure does change a lot, as does the discovery of food allergies and sensitivities. Yet even after adapting this recipe to be GFCF friendly, it remains one of my favorite pies.

Circumstances may have changed, but the memories this pie and many other favorite recipes invoke remain the same. I find myself returning to thoughts of family and friends, of laughter and love, recipe after recipe. Pie after pie. What I do in the kitchen is a labor of love in more ways than one. Not only do I meet the needs of my family, I'm creating memories for my children. I'm linking them to my past while building traditions they can take into their future. So that someday when they are far from home, family and memories are just a recipe away.

You can find Cooking Light's original recipe here.

Brown Sugar Butternut Pie
pie pastry for one-crust pie
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed (about 3 cups cubed)
3/4 cup lite coconut milk
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves
2 large eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a pie plate with the pie pastry. Trim the edges and flute as desired. Set aside.

Steam the squash in a double boiler until soft, about 10 minutes. Place squash in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. You want this to be thick so avoid adding extra water. You should have about1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups of squash puree.

In a large bowl combine the pureed squash through the eggs, beating until well-combined. Pour squash mixture into the pastry lined pie plate. Place the pie in the oven and bake until the filling is set (sides are puffy but not cracked), about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

GFCF Pumpkin Spice Cake


I made this cake for DH's birthday. It drove the girls mad all day to look at the cake but have to wait until Daddy got home to eat it. This is the same basic recipe as Applesauce Spice Cake (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens), with just a few variations. I tried making homemade powdered sugar to frost the cake with - it went well until my blender broke! So it can be done and it will be cheaper to make than to buy...I just need a new blender.

2 cups All Purpose GF flour blend
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup palm shortening
1 1/2 cups cups sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
enough rice milk plus 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar to equal 1 cup of liquid
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13x9 inch baking pan or two 8 inch cake pans lined with parchment paper, with cooking spray. Set aside.

Sift together the flour through the ginger, set aside. Combine the rice milk, vinegar and pumpkin puree, set aside.

In a large bowl beat shortening and sugar until well combined. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and pumpkin mixture alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan or muffin tins.

Bake cake about 30 minutes if using 8 inch pans, 40 minutes if using 9x13 inch dish, or cupcakes about 15 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 8 inch cakes 10 minutes in pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with Mock Buttercream Frosting.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Grain-Free Meatballs with Red Wine Gravy

As I was looking for a meatball and gravy recipe the other day, I ran across a recipe for Braised Meatballs in Red-Wine Gravy at Epicurious. Originally I envisioned making something like Swedish Meatballs but decided this recipe looked better. I ended up trying it three ways - one with a white wine/mustard gravy served over turkey meatballs, one with the original red wine/tomato paste gravy and one with a red wine/mustard gravy over beef meatballs. I really did not care for the red wine with tomato paste at all. But both red and white wine gravies turned out great with dijon mustard replacing the tomato paste. The girls liked the meatballs without gravy, which is fine - DH and I got it all to ourselves!

I did muck around a lot with the original recipe, using it more of a guide than anything else. But it was good inspiration. I nixed the breadcrumbs in favor of potato flour as I'm trying to reduce the grains in my diet, but I think almond flour would work well too. You can find the original here at Epicurious.

Consider serving over top of Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Puree - this was really yummy!

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 tbsp. potato flour (or 3- 4 tbsp. almond flour)
2 large eggs
1 small diced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram

1 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 tbsp. dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with a little olive oil, set aside.

Combine the ground beef through the marjoram, mixing well. Scoop heaping teaspoons and form into meatballs (I got about 24). Place on baking sheet and bake about 30 minutes or until cooked through.

While the meatballs are baking, whisk the wine through the mustard in a small saucepan. Heat slowly without simmering. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the meatballs to a serving plate. Add the red wine gravy to the baking sheet and deglaze. Pour gravy back into the small saucepan and bring to a simmer, reducing to thicken slightly, about 10 minutes. Pour gravy over meatballs and sprinkle with a little parsley. Serve hot.

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Puree

I've been on a roasted vegetable kick lately (see guide to roasting vegetables, yum!). I've made so much roasted broccoli in the past few weeks, it's a wonder DH has not said "enough already!". So in order to hide the fact we'd be having more roasted veggies the other night for dinner, I decided to serve up a puree instead. Actually I was intending to make a roasted cauliflower soup, but I thought cauliflower might make an interesting substitution for potatoes. And boy am I glad I tried it - it was so good - mellow and sublime, it didn't taste like cauliflower at all. DH said it was better than mashed potatoes, which is saying a lot. We enjoyed it so much that I can't wait to make more...maybe for Thanksgiving!


6 large cloves garlic, or 1/2 head of garlic
1 large head cauliflower
olive oil, salt, pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more to taste
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
chicken broth or water or vegetable broth
pinch smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the tips off each clove of garlic. Place in an oven-safe bowl, cut tops up, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast about 30 minutes or until fragrant and soft. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you roast the cauliflower.

While the garlic is roasting, rinse cauliflower and cut into florets of equal size. Pat dry with a paper towel. Toss the cauliflower with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet smeared with olive oil. After the garlic is done roasting, increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Roast the cauliflower about 25 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned, stirring halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven.

Place the cauliflower florets into a food processor. Squeeze the garlic out of its cloves into the food processor. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Turn on the food processor and while it's running, add a little bit of chicken broth, vegetable broth or water (or more olive oil for a richer taste) until the mixture is smooth. Adjust lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. The mixture should be thick and not runny, able to hold its shape on a plate. Turn the puree into a serving dish and dust with a little smoked paprika. Serve warm.

Guide to Roasting Vegetables

Lately I have been all about roasted vegetables...carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, onions, squash, etc. Roasting makes vegetables mellow and brings out their natural sweetness. Megan will actually eat roasted broccoli without hardly blinking, where she'll protest with steamed broccoli. I don't usually get too fancy...sometimes I'll add minced garlic during the last 10 minutes of roasting, or toss in a little lemon juice, but I find that when roasting veggies, less is more. Just a little olive oil, salt and pepper is all they really need.

Pick your veggie
onions - peeled and quartered
carrots or parsnips- peeled and thickly sliced diagonally
potatoes - scrubbed, washed, peeled if desired and chopped into 1 inch pieces
yellow squash or zucchini - scrubbed and thickly sliced
butternut or pumpkin - peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch chunks
broccoli or cauliflower - rinsed and patted dry, cut into florets (try to keep florets the same size)

Dress your veggie
Place veggies in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil (start with 2 tbsp.), sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and add a little lemon juice (1 tbsp.) if desired. You can toss in some herbs too, such as thyme (1/2 tsp. dried). Toss until veggies are well coated. Spread on a baking sheet that has been smeared with a little olive oil.

Roast your veggie
Roast at 425 degrees about 25 minutes (for softer veggies such as squashes and onions, roast at 375 for about 40 minutes) , stirring halfway through, until easily pierced with a toothpick. If roasting broccoli or cauliflower, roast until the tips are caramelized and lightly browned .

Roasting garlic
Garlic should be roasted a bit differently. Take a head of garlic, or a half head of garlic, and cut off the tips of each clove with a sharp knife. Put the garlic cut side up in a small oven-safe bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 350 - 375 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and soft. Cool until easily handled, then from the bottom of the clove squeeze the garlic out of the skin. Garlic this way is excellent plain and spread on a piece of french bread or tossed with other roasted vegetables.

Friday, November 13, 2009

GFCF Applesauce Spice Cake

This is another adaptation from Better Homes and Gardens. I find myself going back to their cookbooks again and again. Of all cake recipes, this one is my favorite. I recently made this for (non-GFCF) friends and they loved it too.


2 cups All Purpose GF flour blend
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup palm shortening
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1/4 cup rice milk
1 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13x9 inch baking pan or two 8 inch cake pans lined with parchment paper, with cooking spray. Set aside.

Sift together the flour through the ginger, set aside. Combine the rice milk and applesauce, set aside.

In a large bowl beat shortening and sugar until well combined. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and applesauce mixture alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan or muffin tins.

Bake cake about 30 minutes if using 8 inch pans, 40 minutes if using 9x13 inch dish, or cupcakes about 15 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 8 inch cakes 10 minutes in pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with Mock Buttercream Frosting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

GFCF Pear Custard Pie

I've wanted to convert this recipe for over a year. Finally, it's done! This is another tattered recipe I got from a friend of a friend many years ago. As far as favorite pear pies go, this is neck and neck with spiced pear pie. I especially love this no-roll pie crust - it's not crumbly in the least and holds up well in the transfer from pie plate to serving plate. And it behaves nicely too...I'm not sure how to describe the feel of it, but way the edges roll and flute make me happy. The filling is good too, it tastes far richer than it really is...this pie is a treat all around. And this ends this year's string of pear recipes!


Crust
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine or shortening/ghee blend
1 egg, beaten

1 1/3 cup All Purpose GF flour blend


Filling
6 ripe Bartlett pears

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp. melted coconut oil
2 tbsp. coconut milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 tbsp. All Purpose GF flour blend


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.


For the crust, cut the margarine into the flour with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add the egg and mix until well-blended. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crust. Pat the remaining crust into a pie plate, flute the ends as desired. Set aside.



For the filling, peel, quarter and core the pears. Slice each quarter into thirds. Arrange pear slices in the pie plate, overlapping slightly. Set aside.


In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in the sugar. Add the coconut oil, coconut milk, vanilla and flour, blending well. Pour mixture over the pears in the pie plate. Take the reserved crust and crumble over top of the pears.



Bake the pie in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake another 25 minutes until the filling is set and the crust is lightly browned. Let cool and serve pie at room temperature.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

GFCF Pear Bread

This was originally a Penzey's recipe for Apple Bread. I tried it two different ways - one with pears and one with apples and some applesauce to replace half the oil. Our favorite was the one with the pears. If you'd like to use apples instead, grate 2 apples in place of the pears and nix the cinnamon sugar. If you'd like to lower the fat content, replace half the canola oil with 1/4 cup applesauce. The bread comes out fabulously moist either way.

(...made with pears...)


(...made with grated apples.)

2 pears, peeled, cored and diced
2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar
1 1/2 cups All Purpose GF flour blend

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 beaten eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.


In a small bowl, toss the diced pears with the cinnamon sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour through the xanthan gum. Set aside.


In a large bowl, beat together the eggs through the vanilla. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. The batter will be thick. Gently fold in the pear mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 55 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let rest in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pear Cardamom Coffee Cake

Wow, I've been busy. It's been a week since I've posted a recipe and longer than that since I promised some pear recipes. Well here's one, at least. This particular recipe has been my very favorite pear cake recipe for several years. It's one of those awesome, treasured recipes I found at a local orchard. I just love making recipes that come from small family businesses, like I love buying those slim, small country store recipe books. There's something about them that screams "home" to me. Or maybe I'm just a random recipe pack rat. Hmmm.


Anyway, this recipe converted to GFCF really well - so well that it doesn't last long after coming out of the oven. I love making this coffee cake for friends because the bundt shape is so pretty, I've made it for showers and homecomings several times in the past. I was worried about making this bundt cake GFCF and having the sides stick to the pan and everything falling apart into crumbs. So I couldn't believe my eyes when I turned the bundt pan upside down to release the cake - it fell right out! I didn't have to knock on the pan to loosen the cake, I didn't have to shake it, and absolutely nothing stuck! It turned out beautiful and tasted awesome. It's these little things in life that make me happy. Like little country store cookbooks - my little slice of home away from home.

2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
6 oz dairy free vanilla yogurt (such as So Delicious Coconut)

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1/2 cup nut meal
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. cardamom mixed with 1/4 cup sugar
3 soft ripe pears, such as Bartlett, peeled, cored and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan with palm shortening and coat with the flour blend you are using for the cake, tapping out the excess flour. Don't be tempted to take a shortcut and use cooking spray, which will only make the flour clump together and get soggy. Use shortening for this, spreading thinly all over the inside of the bundt pan with a small piece of paper towel, making sure to get all the crevices. Set aside.

Beat together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, canola oil and yogurt until blended. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour through the xanthan gum. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat until blended.

Toss the diced pears with the cardamom sugar. Gently fold the pears into the cake batter. Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 - 15 minutes. Place a plate on top of the cake pan and turn the cake upside down onto the plate. It should release nicely - if it does not, tap on the pan with the back of a butter knife until the cake falls from the pan onto the plate. Cool completely before slicing.

Xanthan Gum vs. Guar Gum

I've finally put my money where my mouth is and have been using guar gum instead of xanthan gum in my baked goods for the past few weeks. Xanthan gum is corn-derived where guar gum is not. I can see no difference between the two in my baked goods. I've been using 50% more guar gum as xanthan gum, so if a recipe calls for 1 tsp. xanthan gum, I use 1 1/2 tsp. guar gum and everything has been turning out great. The one exception is yeast bread - for some reason guar gum is not working in my sandwich bread - I think it is inhibiting yeast growth.

Guar gum is much less expensive than xanthan gum, so even if I was not concerned about xanthan gum being corn-derived, I'd use it anyway because it's half as expensive, maybe less. Which really counts for something in my household these days! I am still using xanthan gum in sandwich bread but in everything else I'm using guar gum, and over time this will help keep the cost of gluten free baking a little more manageable - every little bit of savings counts!

Update
Check out the comment from Niksmom (thanks for the heads-up, Niksmom). I have stated elsewhere that some people may have problems with guar gum because of the high fiber, but I had forgotten that legume sensitive individuals may need to avoid guar gum as it is bean-derived. For people who need to avoid legumes, see this helpful list of legumes here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

GFCF Frosted Pumpkin Bars

These frosted pumpkin bars are good - almost like a cake. I've modified the original recipe (from Penzey's Spices). The maple frosting also goes well with Banana Cupcakes.

2 cups GF flour blend
2 tbsp. flax seed meal
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan or guar gum
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
scant 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 15 oz. can solid packed pumpkin)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray, set aside.

Sift together the flour through the nutmeg, set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs through the pumpkin. Gradually add the dry ingredients and blend well. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack and frost with Maple Frosting.

Maple Frosting
1/4 cup palm shortenting
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. rice milk
2 cups powdered sugar, plus more as needed

Beat together the shortening and maple syrup. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add the rice milk and beat. Add additional powdered sugar until frosting consistency is reached.

Try pumpkin bars with orange glaze (powdered sugar and orange juice) for a change of pace.

Monday, October 12, 2009

GFCF Spiced Pear Crisp


Originally I wanted to turn this into a pie, but it was late in the day, the pears needed to be used right away and I didn't have the time to make a pie crust. And really, a crisp is just a pie without the crust. It only took about 15 minutes to throw together and it turned out great (so good in fact that the kids didn't get any of it because DH attacked it). I'm actually glad I didn't have time to play with a pie crust because it gave me the opportunity to play with a crisp topping that is free of everything Samuel is allergic to or might be allergic to! This one is for you, Samuel - I hope you like it.

Filling
6 - 8 ripe pears
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. tapioca starch
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground allspice

Topping
4 tbsp. amaranth flour
4 tbsp. tapioca starch
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. coconut oil, divided *
4 tbsp. whole grain buckwheat hot cereal

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease one 8x8 inch baking dish, set aside.

Peel, core and slice the pears thickly. Toss with lemon juice. Combine the sugar through the allspice and toss with the pears until evenly distributed. Place into the prepared baking dish. Set aside while you prepare the topping.

Combine the amaranth through the cinnamon. Cut in 2 tbsp. coconut oil with the tines of a fork until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add the buckwheat hot cereal and toss to combine. Sprinkle topping evenly over top of the pears. Drizzle 1 tbsp. coconut oil over top. Bake about 45 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving warm. Cold leftovers are also good for breakfast!

*If you are allergic to coconut, substitute dairy-free, soy-free margarine instead.


You can substitute apples for the pears, if you like! Thanks to Julie for the pretty picture!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Love Affair with Pears

I love pears. Pears are an autumn fruit every bit as versatile as apples. The two are swapped easily in practically most every recipe that calls for one of them. Have pears but need applesauce? Pear sauce is perfectly lovely. Want to make Apple Pie but have too many ripening pears? Pear pie is divine. Want to make mashed potatoes and have an extra couple of pears kicking around? Mashed potatoes with Pears is absurdly yummy. Pears go as well with cranberries as apples do, too. Try pears instead of apples in Apple and Cranberry Tart for a change.

I love apples with cinnamon and I love pears with cardamom so if I do any fruit swapping, I swap spices too. Try pears dressed simply with cardamom sugar* instead of cinnamon sugar. Even Megan, who turns up her nose at pears, will eat them with a little cardamom sugar sprinkled on top.

So because pears have been on sale lately and I just love using pears in the autumn, I'll be posting a small series of pear-centric recipes soon. If you don't care for pears so much, use apples instead!

*To make cardamom sugar, stir together 4 tbsp. sugar with 1/4 tsp. cardamom until well combined and fragrant.