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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Sloppy Joe Turnovers

My mom used to make Sloppy Joe Turnovers for my brother and I when we were kids. Back then she used sour cream and Hungry Jack Biscuits. Fond memories of growing up made me copy the recipe down before I got married (some people fill hope chests, I filled shoe boxes with recipes) and it's taken me oh...many finally make it for my daughters. These meaty turnovers are definitely kids food - DH thought they were "okay", but my girls thought they were great!

Sloppy Joe Turnovers
pastry for 1 crust pie
1/2 pound ground beef
2 tbsp. minced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup ketchup or BBQ sauce
2 tbsp. plain dairy free, soy free yogurt (such as So Delicious)

Preheat oven to 375. In a large skillet over medium heat brown the beef, onion and garlic. Drain the fat off and turn off the heat. Add the salt, ketchup or BBQ sauce and yogurt and mix well. Set aside.

Roll the pastry and cut into circles with a biscuit cutter (don't roll too thin or the pastry will tear). Place about 1 tbsp. of the meat mixture onto each pastry circle, fold in half and press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal. Cut a slit on the top of each turnover to vent. Gently transfer the turnovers to an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes before serving.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

This recipe for thumbprint cookies is from Ball's Blue Book of Canning and Preserving. Originally egg-free, I've made it gluten, casein and nut free as well. It is my family's favorite holiday cookie, and very easy to make!

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Margarine

2 tsp.
vanilla extract
2 cups GF flour blend (I used
this one)
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/3 cup raspberry jam

powdered sugar + water to make icing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt and xanthan gum, set aside. Cream together the sugar, margarine and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour, mixing well.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place dough balls onto an ungreased baking sheet 2 inches apart. Make a depression in the center of each ball with your thumb, molding the edges slightly. Bake cookies about 10 - 12 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and immediately make a deeper impression in each cookie with the back of a spoon. Fill depressions with jam. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Stir about 1/3 cup powdered sugar with a enough water to make a glaze that can be drizzled easily. Drizzle glaze in stripes over each cookie. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dark Chocolate Brandy Truffles

While DH was in grad school we hung out with a core group of friends who all liked to cook and bake. One member of our group made truffles one Christmas- the most evil, rich and decadent bits of chocolate I've ever had - and he shared the recipe with me. This year I've made them dairy-free, and they are just as fabulous as they were then. The original recipe called for 2 pounds of chocolate, 1 pound of butter and heavy cream. This recipe by Joy of Baking was smaller in scale and came closest to the original, so I modified it to suit my needs. It came out great. I might not be able to make fudge to save my life, but who cares with these truffles in my arsenal?

There is no need to go berserk trying to make truffles round and perfect. They are not supposed to be perfect, they are supposed to look like real truffles - like mushrooms coated with a thin layer of dirt. I think homemade truffles have personality, more so when they are slightly misshapen and cute!

Dark Chocolate Brandy Truffles
8 oz. dairy free, soy free semisweet chocolate (such as 365 Swiss Dark Chocolate)
3/4 cup full fat coconut milk (such as Thai Kitchen)
2 tbsp. dairy free, soy free margarine (such as Earth Balance)
2 tbsp. brandy
1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

The way you are supposed to do it: Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a stainless steel bowl. Bring the coconut milk and margarine to a boil and pour over the chocolate in the bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

The way I do it: Chop the chocolate into chunks and place in a medium saucepan with the coconut milk and margarine. Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is almost all melted. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Stir the brandy into the melted chocolate. Pour into an 8 inch baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours to overnight, or until firm.

Sift together the cocoa and the cinnamon. Take the truffles out of the refrigerator. One by one, scoop small spoonfuls of chocolate and roll them into bite-sized balls, then roll in the cocoa. The truffles will be soft and will stick to your hands - it helps to dust your palms with cocoa to keep the chocolate from sticking them them too much. Drop each truffle into a mini paper baking cup. They should look a little misshapen, not perfectly round. Store in the refrigerator. Bring the truffles to room temperature before serving.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread (Gluten Free & Vegan)

It has been three years since I've had Scottish Shortbread! And finally, I've made some! The years just seem to go by so fast, and there are so many old recipes to convert. But it was shortbread's turn this year, since it is my mom's favorite. Now that she is also gluten free, I am very motivated to send these to her. I hope they travel well!

2 1/2 cups GF flour blend (I used High Protein)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
6 tbsp. sugar
1 cup dairy free, soy free margarine (such as Earth Balance)

1 cup dairy free, soy free chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)
2 tbsp. palm shortening

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the flour and sugar. Cut in the margarine with a pastry cutter until mixture starts to cling together in largish clumps. Turn the dough onto a piece of wax paper and knead until smooth. Place a piece of wax paper on top of the dough and roll into a rectangle shape 1/2 inch thick. Remove the top piece of wax paper, trim the edges of the dough, and cut into rectangles about 2 inches long.

With a spatula, remove the shortbread rectangles to an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Prick three times with the tines of a fork. Bake about 15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit a minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small saucepan over very low heat and stirring constantly, melt the chocolate and shortening until almost smooth. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until completely smooth. Dip each shortbread into the chocolate and place on a piece of wax paper to cool and set.

When the chocolate has cooled, lift the shortbread from the wax paper and place on a plate. Layer the shortbread between pieces of wax paper. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to serve. Makes about 2 dozen.

Gluten Free, Vegan Gingersnaps

Happy Holidays! Here is my version of gluten free and vegan gingersnaps...not only are they really good, they smell just like Christmas. I love that they are a snap to throw together - no chilling needed! The original recipe (which I modified slightly) can be found here. I have used prune butter to replace the egg (I love, love, love using prune butter in cookies!), but you may try applesauce - just omit the rice or coconut milk as the applesauce has more moisture than the prune butter.

2 2/3 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 cup palm shortening

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup prune butter
1 - 2 tbsp. rice or coconut milk
sugar for coating

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

Sift together the flour through the salt, set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together the shortening and the sugar. Add the molasses and beat well. Add the prune butter and 1 tbsp. rice or coconut milk beat until smooth . Beat in the dry ingredients until the dough forms large clumps and pulls away from the sides of the bowl - you may need to add another 1 tbsp. rice or coconut milk for more moisture. You do not want the dough to be too sticky or too dry - take a bit in your hand and roll it - if it does not stick to you and does not fall apart into bits, you are done.

Divide the dough in half. Place half the dough on a piece of waxed paper and roll with your hands into a log about 2 inches thick. Cut the logs into 1/3 inch thick slices. Repeat with remaining dough.

Press both sides of each slice into the sugar. Place on prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Bake about 10 minutes, until the tops look crackly and the bottoms are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet one minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies are soft when warm, and crispy when cool - simply perfect!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hooray for Soyatoo Casein and Soy Free Whipped Cream!

This Christmas, thanks to Soyatoo's Rice Whip whipped topping, I can enjoy a proper Irish Coffee! And the girls can enjoy a lovely hot cocoa! There is no casein, no gluten, no corn and contrary to its name, no soy in this stuff. And it tastes pretty darn good! It's not too sweet and it's light and fluffy like whipped cream should be. The price tag is a bit shocking, but for the holidays its worth it. We've been three years without whipped cream, and I'm ready to splurge a little bit this season!

Irish Coffee: 1 mugful of coffee, 1 packed tsp. brown sugar, 1 capful Jameson's Irish Whiskey, cream of your choice (I used So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer) and Soyatoo Rice Whip Topping.

Hot Cocoa: 2 tbsp. natural cocoa powder, 2 tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 2 cups So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk, Soyatoo Rice Whip Topping, and shaved chocolate (this Christmas I'm addicted to 365 Swiss Dark Chocolate with Mint Crisps).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Gluten Free and Vegan Ultra-Rich Brownies

I cannot make fudge. Every year I try, and every year I fail. Fudge is not supposed to be terribly finicky, but I just cannot get it right. I can make a mean nut brittle, but forget about fudge. So I've given up on fudge! This Christmas instead, I will serve peppermint brownies! I've been tinkering with this recipe for months - unlike Cake Brownies, these brownies turn out rich, dense and fudge-like. I might never mourn fudge again.

I have again used prune butter to replace egg. It does not exactly make these brownies healthy, but it does make them ultra-rich and evil. Chocolate chips make them even more evil. And by evil I mean, it's hard to stay away from these things! I have tested their evilness multiple times on different people and have enough evidence to suggest that it's not the kids, but the grown men who are tempted most by these brownies (to the point of scraping up whatever scraps they can find at the bottom of the baking dish long after the brownies are gone)!

Using a non-stick baking pan is best - the brownies will stick to a glass pan no matter how much you grease it. The brownies are done when the sides pull away from the sides of the pan and the brownies stop "breathing". A toothpick won't come out completely clean, and the brownies will set a bit as they cool. Enjoy!

Gluten Free and Vegan Ultra-Rich Brownies

3/4 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup canola oil or coconut oil
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract, depending on how minty you like your chocolate
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup prune butter
1 tbsp. flax seed meal in 3 tbsp. hot water
1 1/2 cups GF flour blend
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or 1 tsp. guar gum
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 - 1 cup (depending on how evil you want your brownies to be) dairy free, soy free semi-sweet chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 inch non-stick baking pan with palm shortening, set aside.

Stir together the flax meal and the hot water, set aside to thicken.

Sift together the cocoa and the baking soda. Add the canola or coconut oil and stir to combine. Pour in the boiling water and stir until thickened. Add the sugar, stirring to combine. Add the prune butter and flax meal mixture, beating to blend well. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour through the salt. Add to the chocolate mixture and stir until well-blended. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, smoothing out evenly. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean and the sides begin to pull away from the pan.

Set the brownies on a wire rack. Run a rubber spatula along the sides to loosen the sides from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack, then with a rubber spatula slide the brownies out of the pan onto a cutting board. Cut into squares to serve (I cut away the sides and leave them for DH, since he likes the crunchy parts best). You may frost these brownies and sprinkle crushed peppermint candy on top if desired - it makes them ultra-evil!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cranberry, Pine Nut and Quinoa Tart (Gluten Free and Vegan)

Here's another extreme makeover of one of my favorite dishes ever. It used to be Cranberry, Walnut and Blue Cheese Tart. It was savory and wicked good. Here I've replaced the wheat, cream, eggs, cheese and walnuts of the original and turned it into Cranberry, Pine Nut and Quinoa Tart, which makes it officially gluten free and vegan. Okay, I used millet for this one in the picture, but quinoa works too. This is so good I like it cold for breakfast. Even DH and our gluten-scarfing friends love it! I'm so happy I can enjoy this savory cranberry tart again. I don't even miss the blue cheese!

1 cup GF flour blend
2/3 cup pine nut meal
4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 tbsp. dairy free, soy free margarine
2 tbsp. coconut milk

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ tsp. salt
generous 1 cup fresh cranberries, washed
1 tbsp. sugar
1 cup cooked quinoa
¼ cup pine nut meal
2 tsp. fresh minced thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
1 tbsp. arrowroot starch
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup Daiya mozzarella
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (such as Thai Kitchen)
¼ cup pine nut meal
2 tbsp. Daiya mozzarella
salt and pepper

For the Crust
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pulse the dry ingredients and margarine together in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the coconut milk and pulse until the dough comes together and away from the sides of the bowl.

Press the dough into a 9” tart pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees 10 – 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside while you prepare the filling.

For the filling
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot or dutch oven, sauté the onion and salt over low heat 10 – 15 minutes or until soft (do not brown). Add the cranberries and sugar, cooking until the berries pop. Stir in the quinoa, pine nut meal and thyme. Spoon into the tart shell. Toss together the arrowroot starch, baking powder and Daiya. Add the coconut milk and pour over the cranberry mixture in the tart pan. Sprinkle ¼ cup pine nut meal over all.

Bake at 350 degrees about 20 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. This is better the next day and together with a salad, it makes a nice light lunch.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tian De Courge (Squash Gratin)

Tian De Courge is easily my very favorite autumn dish. DH's aunt made it one Thanksgiving years ago and I've been making it ever since...well, ever since a couple of years ago. I've missed it, and this year instead of grumbling about it, I reworked it to be safe for my family. Although there is no chance the girls will go near this dish yet, I'm making it egg-free anyway against the time they will give it a try. The egg was the hardest thing to replace...without it, the structure is not as light and airy, but the taste is fabulous. Even DH (who does not have any food allergies at all!) really liked my new version. So here it is...squash gratin, gluten free and vegan!

4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 medium sized leeks, white and tender green parts only - washed and thinly sliced
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash - seeds removed, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
dash each of salt and pepper
2 tbsp. water
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (such as Thai Kitchen)
1 tbsp. arrowroot starch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella
1/2 cup pine nut meal, divided
pinch grated nutmeg
1 1/4 cup allergy-friendly breadcrumbs or cracker meal, divided
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Smear a casserole dish with olive oil, set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over low heat. Add the leeks and cook gently (don't brown!) until they begin to dissolve, about 10 - 15 minutes. Add the squash, salt, pepper and water. Cover and cook until the squash is very soft, almost a puree, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Toss together the arrowroot starch, baking powder, Daiya cheese, nutmeg and 1/4 cup of the pine nut meal. Pour into the pot with the squash. Add the coconut milk and 3/4 cup breadcrumbs or cracker meal and stir to combine. Turn the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs and the remaining 1/4 cup pine nut meal. Drizzle 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a thin stream over the surface. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Apple Yogurt Crumb Pie (Gluten Free and Vegan)

Sour Cream Apple Pie used to be one of my very favorite pies. I've missed it the past couple of years. But this year instead of pining for it, I decided to rework it with So Delicous Coconut Milk Yogurt! Happy day, my pie came out great! Instead of using sour cream, sugar, flour and egg in the filling I substituted coconut milk yogurt, maple syrup and granulated tapioca. Now that Anna is able to again tolerate apples, everyone was able to partake and enjoy, and that made us all very thankful.

Apple Yogurt Crumb Pie

pastry for one-crust pie

8 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. granulated tapioca

Crumb Topping
1 cup GF flour blend
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp. dairy free, soy free margarine (such as Earth Balance)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare your pie crust, set aside.

Peel, core and thinly slice the apples into a large bowl. Stir together the yogurt through the tapioca, pour over the apples and toss until the apples are evenly coated. Fill the pie plate with the apple mixture, distributing evenly. Put the pie in the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 375 degrees and bake 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the crumb topping.

Combine the flour blend through the cinnamon. Cut in the margarine with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine meal. Remove the pie from the oven. Pour the crumb topping over the apples, spreading to cover evenly.

Return the pie to the oven and bake another 30 minutes. Test the apples with a toothpick. Bake another 10 - 15 minutes if needed, until the apples are soft and the filling is bubbly, covering with tin foil to keep the topping from over-browning if needed.

Remove the pie from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Roast Crisp-Skin Turkey (Edited)

I found it! My favorite recipe for brined turkey! It was stuffed in someplace really random, and now that I have it in hand I'm going to post it right away so all I have to do next year is head to my blog to find it. Phew!

This is the most fabulous recipe for brined turkey ever. I can't remember where it's from. I think my mom gave it to me as a newspaper clipping or something like that. I've tried other brining recipes before, all of them fancier than this one, but this is the one I like the best. It's just a simple brine (just salt, no sugar) - it's the method that makes it fabulous. After soaking the turkey in brine for a few hours, the turkey sits uncovered in the refrigerator for another several hours, which gives the skin a chance to dry out a bit so it will crisp when roasted. Then the turkey is basted and turned while roasting, which might seem like a pain in the rear but trust me, this produces a crispy skin all over the turkey. The brine keeps the turkey moist, not salty. It's just fabulous, worth every minute of preparation. And the gravy made from the drippings? To die for!

This recipe calls for a high-salt brine for a short soaking time. If it makes it easier for you to have a longer soaking time, cut the salt in half and double the time the turkey soaks in the brine. And now without further ado, here it is - the best brined turkey recipe ever. I'll post pictures as soon as I can. I don't stuff or truss my turkey, but you can if you wish!

Roast Crisp-Skin Turkey

12 - 14 pound turkey (not pre-basted, preferably fresh and minimally processed)

For the brine
4 cups kosher salt (or 2 cups table salt)
2 gallons cold water

For the pan
2 carrots, cut into large pieces
2 celery stalks with their leaves, cut into large pieces
2 large onions, cut into eighths
6 sprigs fresh parsley or thyme

For the herb baste
6 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 2 tsp. fresh minced thyme)
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Start the night before you cook the turkey. Combine the salt with the two gallons of water in a large pot (I use my canning pot) and stir until the salt dissolves. Remove the giblets from the cavity and rinse the turkey inside and out. Place in the brine breast side down. The turkey will float, so lay a heavy plate on it to keep it submerged. Refrigerate for 4 - 6 hours, not longer than that or the turkey will be too salty. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry inside and out. Place in a roasting pan and return to the refrigerator, uncovered, for 8 - 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and discard any water that has collected in the cavity and in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the turkey on the roasting rack breast-side up. Adjust the stove rack to the lowest position in the oven. Toss 1/3 of the veggies together with 2 sprigs of parsley or thyme into the cavity. Scatter the remaining veggies and herbs in the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour 2 cups of water into the roasting pan with the veggies.

Combine the olive oil through the black pepper. Baste the turkey all over with this mixture. Place the turkey in the oven and roast 45 minutes until the breast is crisp and browned. Baste again and roast another 15 minutes. Rotate the turkey in the oven as needed so all sides brown evenly. Add water to the bottom of the pan as needed to keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the turkey from the oven, turn breast-side down, baste and roast another 45 minutes until the bottom is crisp and browned. Baste again and roast another 15 minutes, rotating in the oven as needed. Turn the turkey breast-side up again, baste, rotate and roast in 15 minute intervals (stop basting 30 minutes before the turkey is done roasting), until a thermometer in the breast reads 160 degrees and in the thigh reads 170 degrees (the turkey will keep cooking for several minutes after removal from the oven). You may need to put some foil over the turkey the last half hour of roasting to keep it from getting too brown.

Remove the turkey from the oven, tent with foil and let sit for 20 minutes before carving. A brined turkey will cook faster than a non-brined turkey. A 11 - 12 pound turkey takes approximately 2 hours to roast in the oven.

Pan Gravy

Add a little water or white wine to the roasting pan and stir, scraping up the brown bits of the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Pour the pan drippings through a sieve into a measuring cup. Discard the solids. Skim the fat from the measuring cup, reserving 1/4 cup of fat. Add enough water or chicken broth to the remaining drippings in the measuring cup to equal 2 cups of liquid.

Pour 1/4 cup of the reserved fat into a medium saucepan. Whisk in 3 tbsp. arrowroot starch until smooth. Slowly add the reserved drippings, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat, until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Season to taste with pepper, if desired Serve hot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Swiss Chard-Wrapped Fish

My new favorite way to make fish is to wrap it in chard leaves and bake it. I've tried this with different seasonings and each time it's been very good, no matter how I've seasoned it. Each time the fish comes out perfectly cooked. It's like parchment-wrapped fish, only better in my opinion because you get to eat the wrapping. Even better? The girls love this dish, which is great because it's one of the only ways I can get them to eat chard.

4 large Swiss Chard leaves
1 pound fish (tilapia and salmon work well)
olive oil
salt and pepper
seasoning of your choice (pesto, lemon-garlic seasoning, thinly sliced lemon, thinly sliced onion, mustard-honey dressing, maple-balsamic glaze, minced garlic and herbs, etc.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Smear olive oil on a baking sheet, set aside. Rinse the fish and pat dry, set aside.

Rinse chard and pat dry. If the ribs are thick, mash them with a fork to make them pliable. Cut the fish into serving portions. Lay your chosen topping on top of a piece of chard, then top with the fish (or season fish all over with your choice of seasoning).

Fold the chard over the fish to cover fish completely. Lay the fish seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fish.

Smear the chard-wrapped fish pieces all over with olive oil (this will keep the chard from drying out) and season with salt and pepper. Bake 10 - 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish (tilapia takes 10 - 12 minutes and salmon takes about 15 minutes). Serve immediately.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Arugula Pesto

We have scads of arugula crowding our little garden! It's very exciting. I just love going out to the garden to harvest green things for dinner. Our little peas plants have also produced several plump pea pods that Anna has enjoyed splitting open to eat the little green peas nestled inside. I love that she eats so healthy and loves fresh green things almost as much as I do. In spite of all her food intolerances, she is one healthy eater. Megan even tried a couple of small peas...she claimed to not like them, but she ate them anyway, which pleased me quite a bit.

So the arugula is growing like crazy, and there is no better way to tame a bunch of greens than to pick them and turn them into pesto. I've never had arugula pesto before, but this recipe by Michael Chiarello looked mighty tasty. I modified it to suit our needs (honestly, the parmesan is not necessary) and it turned out really, really good. I had to exercise some serious willpower to leave some for DH to try. This recipe does not make a lot of pesto as the greens cook down considerably, but it's worth every bite. I enjoyed this pesto on spaghetti squash for dinner tonight, but it'd be just as good with rice crackers (or, being totally honest...plain by the spoonful).

4 cups arugula, more or less
2 large cloves garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
2 tbsp. almond meal, if desired (or pine nuts, or walnuts, or what-have-you...and if you can't do nuts, then try a little flax seed meal instead)

Bring a pot of water to boiling. Have a separate bowl of very cold water waiting in the sink.

Clean the arugula. If you are not buying it pre-washed, then plunge it into water and strain three times to get rid of dirt bits or bug bits or things like that. Place the arugula in the boiling water and cook 15 seconds to blanch. Pour the arugula into a strainer and then plunge it into the cold water to stop the cooking. It should look wilted and bright green.

Pulse the garlic in a food processor until minced. Add the arugula, lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil and a dash of salt. Process until a the pesto reaches a paste consistency, adding olive oil as needed to achieve your desired consistency. Taste and adjust the salt to taste. Add the almond meal and pulse until combined.

I'm sure this pesto will keep a few days in the refrigerator but I don't know for sure as it certainly will not last that long may make it to see the morning, but then it may not!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Chewy Gooey Ginger Bars

Ah, Prune Butter...there is not enough time to sing its praises. It turned my Chewy Ginger Bars into total fabulousness. Don't get me wrong, they were good before now, but they had eggs in them. Eggs have been out for months now and all my current baking is gluten free and vegan. It's not so bad, really. It gets easier and easier with time, and more fun with each experiment. I promise it does, really!

For these bars I substituted two eggs with both prune butter and flax meal, cut back on the sugar and increased the leavening. I stuck them in the oven and walked away until they started smelling good. Then I turned on the oven light and watched. At first I was totally bummed out by what I was seeing...the bars had risen nice and high and fluffy and then one by one, little sections split, spit out steam, and fell. At the end, when a toothpick finally came out clean, the middle section was sunken and the edges were raised, like brownies but flatter.

When the bars had cooled completely I offered one to DH, thinking to myself that I was glad he accommodates my failures. But guess what? They ended up being great! More than great! They were so good that I had a hard time keeping away from them (and remember, I don't care for sweets too much). The prune butter makes these bars richer, tastier and more toothsome than their predecessor. If I had a choice, I'd choose to keep making these without eggs.

At the end of the day, I don't think it's a bad thing that these bars turned out a little flatter than I wanted them to be initially. I'm not inclined to make any changes to this recipe, it's that good. If you try them, I hope you think so too. These bars keep well on the counter for a day or two and in fact, they taste better the next day. Store leftovers in the refrigerator until they are our house, they did not last long.

2 cups Sorghum Chickpea Blend
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup canola oil or coconut oil
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup prune butter
1 tbsp. flax meal in 3 tbsp. very hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 inch baking pan, set aside.

Stir the flax meal into the 3 tbsp. very hot water and let sit for several minutes to thicken and gel.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour through the cloves, set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the canola oil or coconut oil together with the brown sugar until smooth. Add the molasses through the flax meal mixture and stir until well blended. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary (I did all of this with a large spoon, but you can use a Kitchen Aid).

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan - it will be thick. Spread the batter evenly. Place in the oven and bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the bars in the pan completely on a wire rack before serving.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gluten Free, Vegan Bran Muffins

This was the first recipe I tried replacing eggs with prune butter. Holy cow, these muffins came out so good! I'm not into muffins or sweets too much - I make them for my family - but I really enjoyed these. The prune butter keeps the muffins moist and really does add a rich flavor - and the muffins don't taste like prunes at all. I've made gluten free bran muffins before, and this vegan version is my favorite by far.

1 cup rice bran
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour Blend
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
1/2 cup prune butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup rice milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups, set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the rice bran through the xanthan gum. Add the raisins or dried currants and toss to coat. In a separate bowl, stir together the prune butter through the rice milk. Add to the flour mixture all at once and stir until well-combined.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Turn muffins onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Prune Butter (Egg Substitute)

It's been busy here lately. Among a myriad of other things, I've been trying to find creative ways to replace eggs in my baked goods. Whereas before I'd use applesauce or mashed banana as egg replacers, I can't do that now with Anna's elimination diet. I've been using a lot of flax and needed a change - flax meal, while good, isn't a great egg substitute for everything.

So while searching for other egg substitutes I ran across this recipe for Prune Syrup which is meant to replace butter. But I thought...why can't it replace the applesauce and banana which are no longer options for me? So I tried it. And it's divine. I've made this prune butter a thicker version of Prune Syrup and it lends a decadent, rich quality to my egg-free baking! Plus, prunes are so healthy and the only way the girls will eat them is if they are hidden in something. So far, so baked goods are coming out awesome and the girls are none the wiser. I love stealth baking!

1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 lb prunes

1/4 cup water

Soak the prunes in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain. Place agave nectar and prunes in a food processor and process until nearly smooth. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the 1/4 cup water. You may need to scrape the sides and process a bit more to get the mixture smooth and thick. Refrigerate up to one week. Use 1/4 cup prune butter to replace 1 egg.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gluten Free, Vegan Pie Crust

Thanksgiving is arriving soon. And while Thanksgiving is currently the farthest thing from my mind, other people are thinking about it. Recently a friend asked - how does one make a gluten-free and vegan pie crust? I told her as I'm telling you - it's very easy. This recipe below is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens (I still use their cookbooks on a regular basis, gluten-fee or not).

I have had fairly good luck using a rice and chickpea (High Protein) flour blend. I find that chickpea flour is essential in pie crust for taste and texture (it also makes the dough pliable and easy to work with), but some people really don't care for the taste of chickpea that case, a simple All Purpose Sorghum Blend will work fine. I do advise against using rice flour without the addition of chickpea flour as chickpea flour moderates the grittiness of rice flour. My best advice is to chill the dough before rolling and don't overwork it. Now get baking!

1 1/4 cups High Protein Flour Blend
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup palm shortening or Earth Balance Dairy Free, Soy Free margarine
1/4 cup cold water
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and the salt. Cut in the shortening or margarine with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles pea-sized meal. Add the cold water and vinegar all at once and stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of wax paper. Knead two or three times and form into a ball, dusting with a little flour as needed if the dough is too sticky. At this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for about an hour before rolling (but you don't have to... I often don't have time for this step so I skip it). Place another piece of wax paper on top of the dough. Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand. Roll the dough with a rolling pin into a 12 inch circle, or about an inch past the edges of your pie plate.

Carefully peel the top layer of wax paper from the dough. Set your pie plate next to the dough. Then with one hand carefully slide your hand under the dough. With your other hand lift the dough and turn it quickly upside down onto the pie plate, centered as best you can, so that the wax paper is on top. You can position the dough slightly, pressing the dough into the pie plate. Carefully peel away the wax paper from the dough. Don't worry if the dough tears, it is easily fixed.

Once the wax paper has been peeled away, finish pressing the dough into the pie plate. Repair any tears with your fingers as needed by pressing the dough together. Most likely the dough will fall away around the sides of the pie plate, at least it does for me as I like a thin crust. This is okay. Just take a knife and finish trimming the crust around the pie plate.

Here is where it gets a little different. You will not be able to roll the edges of the crust underneath itself and in fact, you don't want to as it will be much too thick. Simply press the dough down a bit into the pie plate to make a ridge all around the edges of the pie crust. Flute the edges with the tines of a fork or with your thumb and finger. Bake according to your pie recipe. Makes enough pastry for a single-crust pie. For a double-crust pie, double the ingredients.

Ta-da...gluten free and vegan pie easy as pie! (Sorry, I could not resist.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sauteed Kale

I love kale - really, really love it. Actually, I love most greens...spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, mustard greens...the greener, the better. My tastes have slowly changed over the years from preferring savory over sweet almost all the time. It started when I was pregnant with Anna. I just could not get enough of spinach. Crazy, right? I craved the stuff from morning till night. I'd eat it cold for breakfast. The nurse at the midwife's office was shocked at how high my iron levels were, she said she'd never seen them so high in a pregnant woman before...I think she thought this was good. I was pleased, anyway, and then went home to eat more spinach. Funny that now, Anna loves the stuff too. Veggies and greens are right up her alley. I can't get her to eat kale yet, but maybe someday she'll love it too.

Megan, on the other hand, limits herself to ketchup, vegetable juice, and Bell peppers. Unless they are in a soup, Megan doesn't do veggies. She's been getting a little better about eating sweet potato and butternut squash and she'll even tolerate a little pesto now and then. It's a start.

Speaking of Megan, her whole drama crystallized for us last week. On Friday morning, DH gave her a hug and said "Megan, I need you to be a brave girl and go to school today. Mommy and I know you work really hard, and we know school is hard for you. We are going to get you some help". Megan heaved a big sigh and visibly relaxed in his arms. We were like - wow. She knows. And for now, it's good enough for her to know that we know too. Two weeks and counting until her evaluation.

And so for now, I leave you with this yummy kale recipe. It's really simple but very good. The vinegar might be the most important part of this dish - it makes the kale vibrant. The original recipe by Bobby Flay can be found here.

1 large bunch kale
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

Wash the kale, removing the stems. Tear the leaves into large chunks. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until soft but not brown. Add the stock and the kale. Toss the kale to coat with stock and garlic. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking, stirring, until the stock has evaporated. Turn off the heat. Add the vinegar and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dairy Free, Soy Free Coconut "Sour Cream"

As a sour cream substitute, Avocado Cream is really very good. But avocados have been sub-par at the grocery stores lately, Whole Foods included, so I cannot make mock sour cream for any of my favorite foods, which include quesadillas and black bean soup. I keep looking for a dairy free, soy free and nut free sour cream alternative at the stores, but so far nobody has ponied up on that front.

So I took a gander at these recipes and bought a large container of So Delicious Plain Coconut Milk Yogurt and mixed it with a tablespoon of lemon juice (although I think plain white vinegar would work here too). I placed a fine sieve over a medium sized bowl, lined the sieve with 4 layers of cheesecloth, and poured the yogurt on top of the cheesecloth. I let the yogurt drain for 2 days in the refrigerator. There was 1/2 cup liquid in the bowl and I was able to scrape about 1/2 cup of fairly thick "sour cream" off of the cheesecloth.

So how does this "sour cream" taste? It's a little delicate tasting, not as robust as the dairy version. But I like it. It's another option, anyway, when Avocado Cream just won't do. And it was good in my black bean soup.

(Shae's Black Bean Soup with Coconut "Sour Cream")

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dirt Cake

This cake is a hit with kids and adults alike. I always get the best comments when I bring this dessert to a party, usually centered around the flower in the cake and the worms sticking their heads up out of the "dirt". It's a great way to use a "failed" cake - if you have one that craters or is delicate and breaks apart, just turn it into Dirt Cake. It may not be the cake you originally envisioned, but it will be a crowd-pleaser all the same!

1 recipe prepared Chocolate Pudding
1 recipe prepared Chocolate Cake or cupcakes
1 small plastic flower pot or serving bowl
1 small plastic flower
1 package Yummy Earth Gummy Worms

Wash and dry flower pot. Line with Saran Wrap.

With your hands, crumble the chocolate cake into small chunks. Place 1/3 of the crumbled cake into the bottom of the flower pot. Toss in a few gummy worms and layer 1/3 of the pudding over top. Repeat the cake, gummy worms and pudding layers, ending with a cake layer.

Wash the stem of the plastic flower and insert the flower into the cake. Use pudding if necessary to help "shore up" the flower stem. Lay a few gummy worms on top of the cake. You can add green sprinkles for "grass" if desired.

*If you want to be sneaky and make this healthier, layer in some fruit (strawberries, raspberries or sliced bananas) underneath the pudding.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gluten Free, Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

(The cookies above have amaranth flour in them, the cookies below have buckwheat flour in them.)

(Don't need to be egg free? See this recipe for chocolate chip cookies that are simply gluten and casein free.)

I've been playing with gluten free and vegan chocolate chip cookies for a little while now. Each time I make them, they turn out wonderful. I've used different flours such as amaranth or substituted my favorite cookie flour blend, but I like using buckwheat flour best. I prefer soft cookies and happily, these stay soft for days in the cookie jar (if they last that long). This recipe is adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. The most important thing to remember about these cookies it to stir the sugar and the canola oil for a full two minutes until the mixture resembles caramel - if you don't, your cookies will be oily and crumbly. But even with this full two minute step, these cookies are fast and easy to make, and they please just about everybody.

1/2 cup buckwheat or amaranth flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tbsp. flax seed meal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or 1 tsp. guar gum
1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup rice milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup casein free, soy free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, set aside.

Whisk the buckwheat flour through the baking powder, set aside.

Whisk together the sugar through the rice milk. Stir 2 minutes, or until the mixture resembles a smooth caramel. Stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. You can refrigerate the cookie dough overnight at this point if you wish.

Drop the batter by teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 10 - 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute. Then, remove the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining batter. Yield: 2 dozen cookies.

*To make bar cookies, try substituting the buckwheat, rice, tapioca and potato starch flours with 2 cups of Sorghum and Millet Flour Blend. Press dough into a greased 8x8 inch baking dish and bake about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the center. Cool before cutting into bars.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Millet Burgers with Hot Sauce

Millet burger with heirloom tomato and hot sauce.

Today I served these burgers for our Labor Day lunch with friends. Everybody loved them, even the kids. I had originally wanted to make sweet potato falafel but had leftover cooked millet and baking potatoes readily available, and tahini is out for Anna right now as she can't have sesame seeds. So I came up with these burgers instead and inspired by this recipe here, served them with Hot Sauce. I'm really happy with how they turned out. In fact they went over so well that they will enter our regular menu rotation!

Millet Burgers
2 medium baking potatoes
1 can white beans, drained
2 cups cooked millet
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. SunButter (or tahini)
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Wash and peel and chop the potatoes. Put them in a pot of salted water, bring to a boil and cook 10 - 15 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, cook the onion and garlic with 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until soft. Drain the potatoes and put them into a large bowl. Add the drained white beans and mash together with a potato masher. Add the onion, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, SunButter, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper and stir to blend well. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. At this point, you can store this mixture in the refrigerator to make into burgers the next day.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a little olive oil to keep the burgers from sticking to the skillet. Form 1/3 cupfuls of burger mixture into 1/2 inch high round patties. Cook about 3 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown and crusty. Flip and repeat. Serve with Hot Sauce (recipe below) and garnish with sliced tomato and avocado.

Hot Sauce for Burgers
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chopped parsley

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat about 5 minutes, or until reduced and slightly thickened.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gluten Free, Vegan Bagels

Bagels. Fabulous, gluten free, vegan bagels. Perfect with margarine, but just as good as a sandwich. It's been a long time since we've had bagels. Well apart from Enjoy Life bagels, which while pretty good, are not the same as big, light and airy homemade bagels. Actually, I've had homemade bagels before going gluten free and I have to say, I was less than impressed. They were, well, lumps of uninspired blah-ness. Maybe my taste buds were trying to tell me something even then ("stay away from gluten, it's eeeevil...and to prove it to you, we'll make this bagel taste like rocks! Bru-ha-haaaa!").

These bagels are good. In fact, I like them better than any bagel from my gluten days. I used my own flour blend and loosely followed the directions cut from the side of a Pamela's Bread Mix bag. When the girls caught sight of these bagels warm from the oven, their eyes nearly bugged out of their heads. They were so excited they could hardly contain themselves. Sometimes I feel that moments like those are what I live for.

2 1/2 cups GF Multi Grain Flour Blend
3 tbsp. flax seed meal
1 1/2 tsp. rapid-rise yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. So Delicious Coconut Milk or other non-dairy milk
topping of your choice: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon sugar, sauteed onions, etc.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour through the xanthan gum. Make a well in the center. Pour the water and the olive oil into the well. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Drop the batter by 1/2 cupfuls onto a piece of waxed paper coated with cooking spray (you should get six 1/2 cupfuls for 6 bagels). With oiled hands, form the batter into a round bagel shape about 1/2 inch high. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bring a large pot of water to a boil. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, making sure there is no overhang. Coat the parchment paper with cooking spray. Set the baking sheet aside.

When the bagels are done rising, remove the plastic wrap. Make a hole in the center of each bagel (with your fingers or with an apple corer). Cut the waxed paper into squares with a bagel in the center of each square. Carefully life the wax paper and lay the bagel onto a a large flat spatula. Remove the wax paper and slide the spatula with the bagel into the boiling water. Remove the spatula . Boil the bagel for 20 seconds on one side. Flip the bagel over and boil another 20 seconds on the other side. With a slotted spoon, remove the bagel to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining bagels.

Brush the coconut milk over the tops of each bagel and sprinkle with the topping of your choice. Bake the bagels for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are a crusty golden brown. Remove the bagels to a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Yield: 6 bagels.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Caesar Dressing

Here is a Caesar salad dressing that has no egg, no casein, and no soy! Without compromising its integrity, it retains all its familiar Caesar tangy-ness. Which is good, because a Caesar dressing without integrity is, well...bad.

This dressing ha a lovely tan color due to anchovies.

3 medium or 2 large cloves garlic
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
2oz can anchovies
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 cup canola or grapeseed oil

Mince the garlic in a food processor. Add the mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, mayonnaise, anchovies and pepper. Pulse to combine. With the food processor running, add the canola oil in a thin stream. The dressing will thicken and emulsify. When all of the oil has been incorporated, turn off the food processor. Taste and add a dash of salt if desired. The dressing will keep one week in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gluten Free, Vegan Buckwheat Zucchini Muffins

School started this Monday. It was so hot, like 105 degrees, the kind of hot that sizzles your skin in 10 seconds flat, coupled with the kind of humid that makes it harder to breathe. When it gets that hot and humid, it's like living in an armpit. We've been treated to this sort of heat for over a month, I think (although I stopped counting the days because it's just too depressing). Yesterday it was like, 102 degrees - not school weather. When I went to school as a kid (I can't believe I'm writing that! How old am I!) school started in September when the air had started to change, to smell like dying summer...changing leaves, an evening nip in the air, clear blue daytime skies and bright stars at night. I get none of that down here. We get two seasons - hot and not-so-hot. It's really hard to keep track of the months that way.

Finally, this morning we were treated to rain, which brought a 10 degree respite from the heat, and now it feels like autumn is just around the corner. I actually made a bean and pasta soup today, a stick-to-your-ribs soup usually saved for winter, because I was so delirious with the temperature drop. See? My senses are all skewed. So are Megan's...this morning, dressed in a tank top and shorts, she told me she felt cold! She's going to be just like the locals, dressing up in sweaters and knee-high boots and shivering like a leaf in the wind when it hits 80 degrees! Good grief, I don't stop wearing sandals until November, and that's out of peer pressure. One of these days when the girls complain about being cold, I'm going to tell them they don't know cold until they go swimming where I grew up, in the ocean in June at eight in the morning. They get heated pools down here and goodness knows why - it's as warm as bathwater from May through September!

Anyway, I digress. See? The heat makes me cranky. You know what else makes me cranky? Stepping on the odd lizard while walking outside. I'm not used to that...fuzzy bear caterpillars, yes. Random geckos with a death wish, no.

So it's the end of summer (relatively speaking) and I've finally worked the kinks out of My Mom's Zucchini Bread to make it egg-free. I made zucchini muffins all summer, batch after batch, until they came out right. Now I can post the recipe, hooray! Here's to cooler days and zucchini muffins for breakfast!

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1 tbsp. flax seed meal
2 tsp. guar gum (or 1 tsp. xanthan gum)
generous 1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
dash nutmeg

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup maple syrup*
1/4 cup rice milk
1 cup grated zucchini
cinnamon sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups, set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour through the nutmeg, set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the canola oil, maple syrup and rice milk. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until smooth. Fold in the grated zucchini. Add a touch more rice milk if the mixture is too thick.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the muffins. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely before serving. Makes about 10 muffins.

*These muffins are not very sweet, according to my taste. I just don't like overly sweet muffins. You can taste the batter before baking and if you'd like sweeter muffins, add another 1/4 cup maple syrup and increase the flax meal by 1 tablespoon if the batter is too thin.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Gluten Free and Corn Free - Fried Green Tomatoes!

It's been obnoxiously hot and humid here for three weeks and counting. My tomato plants are looking very sad. No matter how much I water them, they are frying in the sun. They are still producing small to medium tomatoes, but as soon as they ripen they get rotten spots where the sun hits them all day long. I've thrown out many ripe tomatoes, which is starting to make me very cranky. Then I thought of fried green tomatoes. I've never had fried green tomatoes and never wanted to make them. But when push comes to shove, I am a practical person and I just can't keep throwing food away. So I caved. I fried up some unripe tomatoes.

I can honestly say that fried green tomatoes are delicious, especially on a BLT. I'm surprised by how much I like them. I went here for ideas on how to make them and apparently, there's no "right" way, you can pretty much do what you want. So I dredged mine in rice flour,fried them up in a little bit of bacon drippings and slapped them into a sandwich. Yummy. Now that I'm thinking about it, a little bit of Tabasco Green Jalepeno Pepper Sauce on these would be excellent too.

Now that I've cleared the fried green tomato hurdle, the one thing that's left that I swore I'd never eat and never cook is...okra. And guess what? My friend has okra plants with huge okra waiting to be picked. Mel, you keep that okra to yourself. I'm not ready to go native completely just yet!

Fried Green Tomatoes
2 medium green tomatoes, washed and thickly sliced
1/3 cup rice flour
generous pinches of salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil (or if making a BLT, save the bacon drippings and use a bit to fry the tomatoes)

Heat a little olive oil, about a tablespoon, in a skillet over medium-low heat (I like using cast iron). In a medium bowl, combine the rice flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the tomato slices through the rice flour, coating completely. Place the tomato slices in the skillet and cook about 3 minutes, or until the bottoms are crispy and golden brown. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, adding a little more oil if necessary to keep them from sticking to the pan. Serve hot.

Grilled Fried Green Tomato Sandwich - simply divine!