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

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.

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

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

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!).

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

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'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.