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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Coconut Nog French Toast

Guess what I found only a few days before Christmas? So Delicious Coconut Nog! I was so excited! It tastes just like egg nog but without egg, dairy or soy. And I can say that it is in fact delicious. A little sweet, but delicious. Today I made some French Toast following the guidelines on the carton - 1 very ripe mashed banana plus a cup of nog, dip slices of bread in this mixture and let them soak several seconds, then cook in hot coconut oil over low heat until golden brown on each side. We have not had french toast in ages and this version was very good!

(So Delicious, you keep rocking my world. When will you come up with cream cheese?)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Acorn Squash Dip

Happy Boxing Day! I must announce with some dismay that I am being assimilated. I've been trying to stave this off for years, flinging the word "wicked" around with abandon even in the face of raised eyebrows, to counter the effects of the "y'alls" I hear every day.

A friend: "How'd y'all enjoy your weekend?"
Me: "It was wicked good!"

Sadly, I have succumbed to the quirky charms of where we now live. I've given up. Belonging to a place is more official when you own a home there and are no longer transient. I resigned the other day when I heard myself say to a friend who was on vacation "Good grief, y'all have been gone forever!". I could have slapped myself in the forehead. It just slipped right out. I'm afraid the "fixing to's" and the "right quick's" are just around the corner.

It's not just the regional colloquialisms that are sneaking their way into every day living. It's the craving for food with heat. I keep throwing hot sauce, cayenne pepper and dried chilies in my food. "Gosh golly gee, this food I grew up with tastes bland!", I'll say to DH as I enliven my meals with Frank's Red Hot. DH just smirks at me.

Recently I found myself an unassuming recipient of a CSA-procured acorn squash. The last time I made acorn squash was to bake it, puree it and feed it to an infant Anna. I don't normally care for acorn squash - it's sweet, it's usually prepared on the sweet side, and I'm a definite savory girl. I like this savory interpretation on acorn squash better than any other acorn squash dish I've tried. A little cayenne pepper sprinkled on top might be nice too...but maybe that's just me!

1 small acorn squash
olive oil

2 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
2 - 3 tbsp. olive oil
splash of lemon juice
water or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
parsley to garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp and discard. Smear olive oil over the cut halves of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast about 45 minutes or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the, turn the squash cut side up and set aside to cool. You can store the squash (covered in plastic wrap) in the fridge for a day or two until you are ready to make the dip.

Thrown the garlic cloves and walnuts into a food processor. Pulse until minced. Scoop the squash flesh from the skin and place in the food processor. Discard the skin. Add the olive oil and lemon juice to the food processor. With the food processor running, add enough water or broth to make a thick dip. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Scrape the dip into a serving bowl and garnish with parsley if desired. This tastes best if it sits for a day in the refrigerator - serve it chilled with crackers and crudites.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Apple Spice Muffins

It's the holidays and I have yet to make a single batch of Christmas cookies. I've been so strapped for time lately that the girls have had nothing but boxed cereal for breakfast for days upon days. In this house, that's just not popular. The girls have been begging for muffins and I could not ignore their plaintive pleas any longer. Late last night I finally made a batch. These are good and whip up in a flash which is very helpful for busy days. You could, if you wanted to, call them a holiday muffin...the cinnamon makes the house smell like Christmas. That's what I tell the girls, anyway.

Dry Ingredients
1 3/4 cup GF flour blend
1/4 cup flax meal
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 small apple, peeled, cored and diced (if desired)

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

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the applesauce through the vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combine. Fold in the diced apple, if desired.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake about 20 minutes or until they smell really good and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the tin to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wilted Kale Salad

I have not baked anything interesting lately. This is stressing me out, since Christmas is just around the corner. I have not had the time - I've been working. Yes, that's right...I landed a part-time retail job - a year ago! I've been snapping up as many hours as possible during the holiday season while they are available. This is good for the bills, but not so good for the baking. Sigh.

I made this kale salad (based on this recipe by Sarah Kramer) for Thanksgiving and it was amazing. I've made it again since then and I'm making it for Christmas too. It's healthy, delicious and really quite pretty. I love any leftovers as a kale and (Daiya) cheese quesadilla for breakfast the next morning. But then, I'm weird with my greens like that.

1 large bunch kale, washed and spines removed
1 small raw beet, peeled and grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
one generous handful of chopped walnuts

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. dry white wine
2 tbsp. olive oil or sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the kale thinly into strips. Put into a large bowl and add the beet, carrot, onion and walnuts. Toss to combine.

Whisk together the vinegar through the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the kale mixture and toss to coat. Toss every 15 minutes or so for the first hour. Then, toss once an hour until ready to serve. It will take a couple of hours to wilt, and it tastes even better the next day. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Curried Sprouted Beans

I've been busy sprouting things in my new spiffy Victorio three level sprouter! I love it - it does not take up a lot of space in my small kitchen and I can keep the moisture level consistent so my sprouts are neither moldy nor dry.

My favorite thing to sprout so far are alfalfa seeds simply because Anna loves them so much. She'll grab great hulking handfuls of them and eat them on the run. I'm lucky if I get any alfalfa sprouts at all.

Here are some "tic-tac" sprouts (I've no idea what they are actually called) - a friend gave them to me after she got them from an Indian market. She puts these sprouts on top of salads but I like them better sauteed in coconut oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

I also like to sprout a mix of lentils, green peas and chickpeas and had some handy when Ina posted a recipe for Curry Pate that called for sprouted beans. I used her recipe as a guide to make Curried Sprouted Beans. DH and I enjoyed them plain and Anna enjoyed them with pasta for dinner. I think even Megan had some, and that makes this dish a winner in our house. Thanks, Ina, for the inspiration!

1 1/2 cups fresh sprouted legumes (chickpeas, green peas, lentils, mung beans, etc.)
1/4 cup diced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
dash of lemon juice, if desired

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the onion, garlic and sprouted beans and stir to coat. Cook for a few minutes, until the onion begins to soften.

Add the white wine, curry powder, ginger, salt and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Cover the skillet and cook for about another 5 minutes, or until fragrant. The liquid should be mostly absorbed. Taste and adjust the salt and cayenne if needed. Add a dash of lemon juice if desired. Serve warm.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Squash Flower Quesadillas

I have not fallen off the face of the earth, I promise. I just cannot seem to get my feet underneath me. I'm feeling very busy and very scattered, but in a good way. Life is busy, but good.

In late August DH built raised garden beds and we planted squash. Crazy, I know, but we thought what the heck? It's been so hot since May, maybe the plants will produce squash in the milder temps of October. Well we did get baby butternut squash (which tonight I threw into some turkey soup) and a few very small zucchini squash. I was surprised that they were edible, and tasty to boot. But the squash plants were far more interested in producing flowers than anything else.

And then came the cold snap. And for some reason that escapes me, DH thought that it would be a good idea to rip up the squash plants to sow some garlic! Ahhh, all those pretty squash flowers, full of life and promise, just ripped up and thrown on the compost pile! I could have cried. I sent Anna out to harvest what squash flowers she could find. She was so excited to pick flowers in November that she ran out in her fleecy jammies and Hello Kitty fuzzy slippers. I don't know what the neighbors thought about that, but I thought it was funny.

I have never cooked squash flowers before. But I've heard that it can be done. Not wanting to waste anything from our garden and deeming the flowers too delicate for the compost bin, I decided to go online and find recipes for cooked squash flowers. Nothing I saw appealed to me...sauteed squash flowers (meh), fried squash flowers (too much work)...and then I ran across this recipe for squash flower quesadillas. I am so down with squash flower quesadillas! So I made some. And they were very good.

This is what I threw into my quesadillas. You may modify to suit what you have on hand.

1/2 cup diced onion
1 large clove minced garlic
several itsy-bitsy zucchini, diced (about 1/3 cup)
several coarsely chopped squash flowers, ends chopped off and stamens removed
several grape tomatoes, diced (about 1/3 cup)
a good splash of lime juice
several dashes of ancho chili powder
a few dashes of chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
two gluten free tortillas (such as Food for Life)
Daiya Mozzarella or Pepper Jack
cooked diced bacon, if desired

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet. Add the onion, cook about 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the zucchini, cook another 2 - 3 minutes. Add the squash flowers through the pepper and cook a couple of minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste, then remove from the heat.

In a separate dry skillet, heat a tortilla over medium-low heat. Sprinkle generously with your choice of cheese. Spread half of the squash flower mixture over half of the tortilla and sprinkle with diced bacon if desired. Cook until the cheese just melts and the bottom of the tortilla is lightly browned. Fold in half and remove to a cutting board. Repeat with the second tortilla. Cut each tortilla in half and serve hot.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cinnamon Walnuts

Anna's third grade class is collecting family holiday recipes for a little recipe book they are putting together. I had the arduous task of picking a simple favorite recipe (most of my favorite holiday recipes are a little involved for third graders). I settled on this recipe - I've made it every year for many years, and every year it's gone in no time flat. It's easy, addictive and smells like Thanksgiving and Christmas and everything that is fabulous about fall and winter encapsulated in one little sugar-coated nut. Yum.

This is originally a Penzey's recipe. I cut it out of one of their catalogs a long time ago, and now it's almost impossible to find online. So I'm posting it here for safekeeping. These walnuts (or you can use pecans, if you wish) are addictive by the handful, or good on top of tossed salad with diced apples, dried cranberries and a little bit of balsamic vinaigrette.

Cinnamon Walnuts
4 cups walnuts

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp. dried minced orange peel rehydrated in 2 tbsp. orange juice, OR 2 tbsp. fresh minced orange peel

1 tsp. cinnamon

2/3 cup water

Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the orange peel and water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Add the nuts and reduce the heat to medium-low so the liquid is simmering. Stir constantly while the liquid evaporates. This may take 10 - 15 minutes, so be patient. It is important to stir the mixture constantly so the nuts don't scorch.

At first the liquid will be shiny, but as the water boils off, the sugar will form brown crystals on the walnuts. The nuts at first will be easy to stir, and once the liquid evaporates they will be harder to stir, which is your cue to take them off the heat. Don't remove them too soon, or whatever liquid remains will harden around the nuts when you dry them.
When the nuts are completely coated and all of the liquid has evaporated, remove the pot from the heat. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet or waxed paper to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks (if they last that long!).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gluten Free & Vegan - Dumplings for Soup

Anna and I are both sick. So I made a big pot of soup for dinner, and to complete the meal-in-a-bowl, I made dumplings to go with the soup. It was fabulous....comfort food always hits the spot, but even more so when you are feeling under the weather.

Dumplings for Soup

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons dried parsely
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil or olive oil
1/3 cup non-dairy, non-soy milk alternative

Sift together the rice flour through the sugar, make a well in the center and set aside. Whisk together the canola oil and milk, then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth. Add up to 1 tablespoon of water if the mixture seems too dry. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls into a gently simmering broth-y soup. Cover the soup pot and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover the soup pot and turn off the heat. Serve hot. Makes about 6 dumplings.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gluten Free & Vegan - Pumpkin Muffins!

It's that time of year! Time to bake with pumpkin, my very favorite autumn baking squash! I have been dying to bake with pumpkin since diving into egg-free baking (a year and a half ago, wow the time flies!) but have mostly held off until now. Why? Some things just take time to knock around in my head before I can do anything with them. I love pumpkin breads and pies so much that I didn't want to turn out terrible failures of baked goods...that would just be depressing. I wanted to make sure I'd be reasonably successful, especially as DH is not as fond of pumpkin as I am. He's very good about consuming my experiments/trials and errors...but I didn't want to push it with pumpkin flops.

What kept knocking around in my head for lo, these many months were these facts: anything traditionally featuring pumpkin requires eggs, usually at least two. Pumpkin puree is dense and needs something to make it airy (the eggs usually accomplish this). I don't bake with Egg Replacer. Egg-free baking tends to go downhill when you try to replace more than two eggs. Starch flour tends to torpedo gluten-free, egg-free baking (yes, I'm still traumatized by watching that happen). Although nut flours generally provide for a better rise, I don't bake with nut flours (Anna is sensitive to nuts). Like other fruit purees, pumpkin puree can be used as an egg replacer, but what would replace the egg in a pumpkin recipe? Surely not more pumpkin or another puree - even compensating with a little extra leavening I was afraid the end product would be too dense and wet. So, more than likely I would not be able to convert a recipe - I'd have to stitch one together on my own.

So for inquiring minds - here's my deal on Egg Replacer. I don't keep it in the house and refuse to bake with it. Why? Because I believe I can do it better all by myself. I don't need to buy a hella expensive egg substitute that in my experience doesn't work as well as fruit purees or even flax meal. All Egg Replacer contains is starch flour, leavening agents (calcium lactate which is baking powder, calcium carbonate which is a baking soda substitute and citric acid) and thickening/emulsifying agents (sodium carboxymethylcellulose and methylcellulose - carbohydrate gums which for those who care, may be corn derivatives). Egg Replacer is a glorified leavening agent. But more important to me than that is that it just goes against my DIY tendencies to use Egg Replacer. If I really wanted to use it, I could make it myself. But I don't. I'd much rather use other more handy egg substitutes such as fruit purees, flax meal, maple syrup, honey, canola oil, gelatin or agar powder (which I'm getting ready to play with soon) with a little added leavening. For me, it's more challenging and more fun to do it myself. So that is why you'll never see Egg Replacer called for in any of my recipes.

Okay, enough of that. Without further ado, here is my take on pumpkin muffins. I based them on my zucchini muffins, and they came out smashingly. They are not dense or gummy, not crumbly, and remain airy even after being refrigerated. I'm so pleased with how they turned out that I'm all gung-ho to try pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie...get ready, DH. I fear the onslaught is near!

Gluten Free, Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

Dry Ingredients
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 meal
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 generous tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk (or rice, hemp or nut milk)

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

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

In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until smooth (it should look like thick caramel). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Fill the baking cups 3/4 full. I only get 10 muffins - remove any extra baking cups and put a little water in the bottom of any empty muffin cups to prevent the pan from warping.

Bake the muffins about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins completely on a wire rack before serving. Makes about 10 muffins. They can sit on the counter for a day, but store in the refrigerator after one day - they will keep two more days in the refrigerator.

I know there is a difference between muffins (a quick bread) and cupcakes (a cake).
But I frosted these muffins and called them cupcakes anyway. The girls loved them.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lentil and Millet Flat Bread

So I have fallen in love with dosa (lentil and rice flat breads). I love them at any time of the day, stuffed with anything (especially steamed veggies) or just plain with a bit of salt. And it got me to thinking...why can't I use another grain in place of the rice? Such as...millet? For a little variety, no? It took a bit of searching, but I came across a recipe for Fox Millet Dosa (Korra Biyam) and promptly tried it. I don't know where to find Fox Millet, but whatever...regular old millet works fine. And I'm using red lentils instead of urad dal. I just can't help it, mixing things up with a devil-may-care attitude. But the end result? Tasty.

Basically, follow the dosa recipe exactly except use millet instead of rice. I let the lentils and millet soak for a day (about 10 hours), ground them to a paste, then let them ferment overnight (another 10 or so hours) before placing the batter in the refrigerator. After a few days, the batter has a nice tang. I'm a fan. We've been enjoying lentil and millet dosas all week now, and I'm not even slightly bored yet. In fact, I'm thinking of making another batch and serving them with Ina's yummy looking East Indian recipes!

(Lentil and millet dosa stuffed with chicken salad for dinner.
Next time, I'll stuff them with a curried chicken salad, or maybe a curried potato concoction.
Thanks for the inspiration, Ina!)

(Lentils and millet ground to a thick paste. This is smoother than the lentil and rice batter.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lentil and Rice Flat Bread

Recently I visited a friend who treated me to what she called dosas, which are South Indian lentil and rice flat breads - basically, savory pancakes or crepes. I had been telling her about reading Wild Fermentation, making my own yogurt and trying to decide what fermented food to try next. She jumped up and insisted that I try her dosas, which are a fermented food and very easy to make. She says the longer the batter sits and ferments, the more sour it gets and she just loves that sour taste. I tried her dosa plain with a little salt and decided I really like that sour taste too. So I went home and have since been making dosas as often as possible!

Actually I'm not sure what I'm making can be called traditional dosas, which should look like smooth, thin, crispy crepes. My "dosas" are more like uttapam, which are thicker and more like pancakes. They are both made from the same batter, though, and they can both be called flat bread. Honestly, I don't care what they are called - they are delish! I love their taste and texture, and I love that they will bend and not split, so I can treat them a little bit like wraps or bendy tortillas. DH and I like to fill them with steamed vegetables and eat them for breakfast. I have even served them wrapped around hot dogs as a sort of pigs-in-a-blanket for the girls (okay, I feel a little guilty about totally adulterating a perfectly lovely ethnic food like that but at the same time, it's kind of fun to be a little irreverent).

(Breakfast - dosa stuffed with steamed broccoli!)

My friend gave me the recipe that her adopted Indian Grandma shared with her, which I promptly slightly modified - cutting back on the rice by a full cup (per this recipe here) and adding a little bit of coconut milk yogurt (a trick gleaned from Wild Fermentation) to sort of kick-start fermentation. The method is the same as "Grandma's", however. I also use short grain rice (per the advice here). Normally white rice is used, but I only ever keep brown rice in the house...the brown rice works fine, it just needs to soak longer (which for me is no problem, as I like a long ferment for a slightly tangy taste anyway). Urad dal (skinned split black lentils, found in Indian markets) are traditionally used, but split red lentils make an excellent substitute. Red lentils are easier to find than urad dal so that is what I use.

(Urad dal - skinned split black lentils.
You can use whole black lentils, but your batter will be flecked with dark spots.)

So without further ado, here is the recipe I have been using to make some seriously yummy lentil and rice flat bread!

1 cup urad dal OR red lentils
3 cups short grain brown rice
1 tbsp. plain coconut milk yogurt (such as So Delicious)
1/2 tsp. salt (preferably non-iodized)

Combine the lentils and rice in a large bowl. Rinse them, then cover with water and let soak overnight. In the morning, drain the soaking water, reserving a little bit for grinding. Grind the mixture to a paste in batches in a blender or food processor, adding enough of the soaking water to make a grainy paste. The goal is to have the paste be as smooth as possible, but it will be a little grainy (at least mine is) - this is okay.

(A slightly grainy paste is the best my blender will do!)

Place the batter in a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt. Place a thin towel over the bowl - the goal here is to let the wild yeast (needed for fermentation) in and keep bugs out. Place in a warm dark spot (in the summer on the counter, in the winter in the oven with the oven itself off and the oven light on).

Let the batter sit for a day. It will get a little bubbly - that is the natural fermentation. The longer it sits, the tangier it will taste. Let it sit until it tastes good to you (my friend says anywhere from 24 hours to 3 days - the longest I've let it ferment is 24 hours but she lets it sit for at least 2 days). Here is where she and I differ on the salt. I add the salt with the yogurt, she says to add the salt at the end of fermentation. I've tried both ways and can't tell a difference. For me it's easier to add the salt at the beginning so I don't forget to add it. When the batter tastes good to you, cover it and store in the fridge. It will keep for at least a week.

(Fermented batter - the red lentils give it a pretty salmon color.)

When you are ready to make your dosa/uttapam/flat bread, transfer some of the batter to a separate bowl. Add enough water to make a thinnish batter. At this point you may add cumin seeds, chopped green chilies, chopped cilantro or finely diced vegetables. Heat a non-stick skillet (I use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet) over medium-low heat and swirl a little oil into it (coconut oil is nice). When the oil is hot, ladle some batter into the skillet and swirl it into a thin pancake with the back of a spoon.

Cook until bubbly on top and golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook until golden on the other side. Remove from the pan and repeat. Serve warm and enjoy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stuff (Inspired by Mom)

My mom had a knack for driving me batty when I was a kid. When I was seeking information (which I'm sure she considered "pestering"), she'd give me non-answers.

"Mom, where are you going?"
"Crazy! Want to come?"
"No, Mom! Where are you going?!"
"Crazy! Bye!"

That little exchange in particular would throw me into fits. Here's another good one.

"Mom, what's for dinner?"
"Really? Come on, Mom, what are you making for dinner?"
"I told you - Stuff. Want to try it?"

I'm happy to say my mom never really went crazy, and that her Stuff was pretty darn good. Stuff was usually leftovers, simmered in red sauce and served with rice. It was different every time, depending on what we had hanging around in the fridge. Here's one of my spins on Stuff. And I will admit to telling my daughters some of the same things my mom told me. Sometimes I open my mouth and I'm surprised to hear my mom talking. But the "crazy" thing? I'll never tell my daughters that one. Really Mom, that was infuriating!

Here's a variation on Rice and Beans Stuff. It's super fast, made with leftover grains and things found in the pantry. It meets the Anna and Megan stamp of approval. Best of all, it takes just about 10 minutes to make which is very welcome on busy nights.

3 cups cooked beans - pinto, black, white or black eyed peas (or 2 cans, drained)
vegetable broth
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salsa style tomatoes
lime juice
chili powder
parsley or cilantro
leftover cooked rice, quinoa or millet

In a small pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes, stirring often, until soft. Add the beans (you can mash half of them if you like) and a little vegetable broth, maybe 1/4 cup. Stir in a little of the tomatoes, start with 1/2 cup. Add 1 tbsp. lime juice, 2 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, a little salt and a dash of pepper. You might want to throw in some cayenne for a little kick. Stir and heat, then taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Toss in some parsley or cilantro and serve over re-heated cooked grains. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired. When I want it to have more bite, I'll shake on some Frank's Red Hot.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Potato and Butternut Mash

I have been stuck in a rut as far as meals are concerned lately. One reason for this is because I've been introducing the girls to new foods and want to reinforce the idea that these are not just novel foods but regular on-the-menu foods, such as sauteed spinach with onions and beet greens with garlic (can you believe they eat beet greens? I can't!). So I keep presenting them with the same things to make them routine. Dinners lack a certain spontaneity lately, but I had fun the other night whipping up this Potato and Butternut Mash. The butternut hides nicely in the mashed potatoes and the girls were none the wiser. Someday I'll tell them that there is butternut squash in here, but for now ignorance is bliss!

3 - 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled
1 lb butternut, seeded and peeled

3 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup minced onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. Earth Balance margarine
vegetable broth
salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

Chop the potatoes and butternut into equal pieces. Place in a medium pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down and simmer about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the potatoes and butternut are soft and easily pierced with a toothpick. Drain the water from the pot.

While the potatoes and butternut are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small pan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Mash the potatoes and butternut together in the pot. Add the margarine and stir until melted. Add the reserved onion mixture and stir. Add vegetable broth to taste. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lasagna (Gluten, Casein, Egg, Soy and Yeast Free)

Life has been SO busy lately that I've had this recipe laying around for a whole month. What a crazy month it's been. This lasagna dish was a challenge - for a dinner where all in attendance had food allergies and sensitivities, this dish needed to be free of gluten, casein, soy, corn, egg and yeast. I could not use Daiya because it has yeast in it. How could I make a lasagna with no cheesy substance holding the whole thing together? Frankly the thought was a little sacrilegious. But I gave it my best, and goodness knows I love a challenge.

Ultimately, I combined two different lasagna recipes I remember from my childhood (minus the cheese) - regular ol' meat lasagna and spinach lasagna. For this, the spinach part morphed into a spinach-zucchini-carrot part. Red sauce and flax seed helped hold the meat part together, pine nuts in the veggie part gave it a nutty, buttery flavor without having to use cheese, and white sauce (inspiration here) stood in for the creaminess that cheese would have imparted. If you can't do meat, then double or triple the veggie part for a straight veggie lasagna.

The verdict? Everybody liked it. Most had seconds. I think somebody may have eaten it cold for breakfast. And that makes this home cook very happy.

First, make the White Sauce

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 large clove minced garlic
1/2 stalk celery, minced
1/4 small onion, minced
3 tbsp. potato starch
1/4 cup white wine
14 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
dash each salt and pepper
pinch each basil and oregano
dash lemon juice
2 - 4 tbsp. yogurt

Saute the garlic, onion and celery in the olive oil over low heat until soft. Stir in the potato starch. Whisk in the white wine, then whisk in the coconut milk. Add the salt, pepper, basil and oregano and whisk. Bring to a simmer and cook 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice to taste. Cool, then whisk in the yogurt. Set aside.

Next, prepare the veggies

2 small zucchini, shredded
10 oz package chopped spinach, squeezed dry
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, grated
2 large grated carrots
2/3 cup pine nut meal

Toss the zucchini with a little salt. Put in a colander and place a heavy plate on it. You want to get as much liquid out of the zucchini as possible so you don't have a runny lasagna - the salt will draw the liquid out. If you do this before making the white sauce, by the time the white sauce is finished the zucchini will be ready.

Toss the remaining ingredients with the zucchini. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Set aside.

Prepare the meat sauce

2 pounds ground beef
1 small onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. flax meal
crushed tomatoes
salt, pepper, basil and oregano to taste

Brown the meat in a large skillet (don't cook it all the way through). Add the onion and garlic and cook until meat is cooked through, pouring off liquid as necessary. Turn off the heat and stir in the flax meal and enough crushed tomatoes so that the meat more or less sticks together and looks like it won't fall out all over the place when you slice the lasagna (but don't add too much, you don't want this to be runny). Season to taste with salt, pepper, basil and oregano.

Prepare the noodles

While the meat sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook 1 package of gluten-free lasagna noodles (such as Tinkyada) according to the package directions. In fact, it's better to under cook the noodles a bit, otherwise they will fall apart into bits. They'll finish cooking in the oven. Rinse the noodles under cold water, then massage them with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking together.

Assemble the lasagna

Smear the bottom and sides a 13x9 inch baking dish with olive oil. Put a layer of lasagna noodles on the bottom. Spread about 1/2 of the meat sauce over the noodles. Thinly spread about 1/3 of the white sauce on top of the meat.

Top with noodles. Spread about 1/2 of the veggies over the noodles. Thinly spread about 1/3 of the white sauce over the veggies.

Top with noodles. Spread the rest of the meat sauce over the noodles, top with the remaining sauce and scatter the remaining veggies over all.

Bake the lasagna at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes, or until heated through. Let cool a few minutes before cutting into large pieces for serving. This is good served with a side salad and French Bread for those who can do yeast, or Tomato Rosemary Muffins for those who can't.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crock Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

(Yogurt drizzled with maple syrup...yum, yum.)

Well, I cannot believe how busy I've been these past couple of weeks! Many apologies for being so quiet lately. I have had NO time to post recipes, what with the start of school, meeting with Megan's school counselor and trying to pin down her teacher for a discussion about her classroom accommodations (sadly, the discussion still has not materialized), the plumbers coming out twice to flush our drain lines, the handyman coming out twice to fix leaky faucets, the masons coming out twice to fix our crumbling mortar and broken bricks, both toilets breaking and the car needing clutch service...or transmission service - one of the two, at least. Hopefully not both (though everything seems to be breaking in two's so I should just prepare for the worst). After getting a shockingly high quote from the dealer for repairs, we're taking the car to a local independent garage to get their take on our situation.

So anyway, it's been crazy busy over here. It never rains but it pours! And that's entirely figurative...we have not had any sort of substantial rain in months. Although our triple digit heat has been broken, hopefully for good until next summer. Yesterday it was fabulously cool and breezy, with temps only in the 80's! DH spent the day digging up our garden to put in raised beds and we planted seeds last night in the dark by flashlight. I now understand why people freak out and start wearing sweaters and boots in 80 degree weather...I think it's the relief from the heat and a desire to welcome cooler weather and a change of seasons. Although it's possible that the heat has baked everybody's brains to the point that 80 degrees feels frigid. I would not be surprised by that at all really...the heat was extreme and it lasted a long time. I'm so glad to welcome autumn. Apple pies and hot cocoa, here I come!

In a recent bit of spare downtime, I finally managed to make a second batch of homemade yogurt, this time with a crock pot instead of an insulated cooler. I also used one can of full-fat coconut milk and one can of lite coconut milk. This batch is the one I prefer - it was easy and it tastes a little lighter (not as rich). I bought a special small slow cooker instead of a yogurt maker because it was cheaper and I could make a smaller batch of yogurt that was not so overwhelming. I also felt like I had more control over the process. I need to make some more yogurt this week and I can't wait! It's really a lot of fun to do this myself!

Crock Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

1 can full-fat coconut milk
1 can lite coconut milk
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 capsules probiotics (such as Bluebonnet)
1 tsp. pectin (if using Pomona's Universal Pectin, include 1 tsp. calcium water)

Pour the coconut milk into the crock pot. Turn heat to low and let sit 2 1/2 hours. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered, another 3 hours or till the temperature reaches 110 degrees. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla extract. Pour about a cup of the coconut milk mixture into a blender or food processor. Break open the capsules and add the probiotic powder to the coconut milk, along with the pectin and calcium water (if using). Blend until smooth. Return the coconut milk to the crock pot and wrap in a heavy towel or two. Let sit for 12 - 18 hours.

I started this process at 2pm in the afternoon. I let the yogurt sit overnight wrapped in towels. In the morning, I transferred the crock pot to the oven and left the oven light on. By 4pm, 26 hours after starting the whole process, the yogurt had thickened a bit and tasted pleasantly tangy. I put the yogurt in the fridge and it thickened a bit more. The next day, we enjoyed fruit and yogurt for breakfast!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Maple Yogurt Scones

After finding myself with an abundance of yogurt recently, I decided to make scones. Yogurt scones have always sounded very appealing, especially slathered with jam. These scones turned out nice and dry and not too sweet (the way I like them), but if you like scones that resemble muffins a little more and are a little sweeter, then add more yogurt and a little more maple syrup for a softer, slightly sticky dough. Dried blueberries would be a nice addition to these scones, as would a dusting of cinnamon-sugar!

2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
dash nutmeg
1/4 cup dairy-free, soy-free margarine (such as Earth Balance)
1/2 cup dairy-free, soy-free yogurt (such as So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt)
1/4 cup maple syrup
coconut milk and cinnamon sugar for topping, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour through the nutmeg. Cut in the margarine until the mixture resembles small meal. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the yogurt and maple syrup. Add the yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and stir well with a fork until fully incorporated. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be neither too wet nor too dry. If it's too dry, add a tablespoon of coconut milk or other liquid and stir until there are no dry bits in the bottom of the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured cutting board. Knead two or three times, then pat into a circle 1/2 inch high. The dough should not be sticky - ideally, you will not need to dust it with flour to keep your hands from getting sticky. Cut the circle into eight equal parts. With a spatula, transfer the wedges to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with a little coconut milk and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar if desired. Bake about 15 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Transfer the wedges to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 scones.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Homemade Coconut Milk Yogurt

I recently tried my hand at homemade yogurt. I've been very into DIY lately and I chose to follow the recipe found in Wild Fermenation (making yogurt using an insulated cooler instead of a yogurt maker), substituting canned full-fat coconut milk for the cow's milk. I also read with interest the process for making coconut milk yogurt here at The GFCF Lady.

Making my own yogurt turned out to be very easy and the result was very creamy. I really like it a lot. The longer it sits in the fridge, the more sour and yogurt-y it tastes. It's very rich and tastes quite decadent. The only problem I had with the process described in Wild Fermentation is that it was hard to maintain the ideal 110 degree temperature in an insulated cooler, and I did need to add pectin to thicken a fairly runny end product. But I would do it again, now that I know how. Next time, I'm going to try making yogurt in a crock pot following these guidelines here, and then I might also try using the oven method (leaving the light on in the oven and wrapping towels around the crock).

So what I did this first time around was this:

Heat 3 cans of coconut milk to 180 degrees. Let the coconut milk cool to 110 degrees. Add 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.

For each can of coconut milk, add 1 capsule of your favorite probiotic (we use dairy-free Bluebonnet ). Take out 1 cup of coconut milk, whisk in the probiotics and add back to the rest of the coconut milk, whisking to combine. Pour into two quart-sized glass jars with lids.

Wrap the jars with warm towels and place in an insulated cooler. Place jars of hot water inside the cooler and cover with a lid. Let the yogurt sit overnight. I found it hard to maintain the temperature to an ideal 110 degrees even in an insulated cooler (maybe I should get a different cooler) so I had to replace the jars of hot water with more hot water and re-wrap the yogurt jars with warm towels.

I let the yogurt sit for another 12 hours (24 hours total). Then I poured the yogurt into a blender, whisked in 1 tsp. Pomona's Universal Pectin and the 1 tsp. calcium water that comes with the package, and blended until smooth. I poured the yogurt back into the quart jars and placed them in the refrigerator. The next day, I had creamy, mild-tasting yogurt. We enjoyed this yogurt over the course of 3 weeks and the longer it sat in the fridge, the more it tasted like yogurt. Our favorite way to enjoy this ultra-creamy yogurt is for dessert, drizzled with a little bit of maple syrup. I'm hooked, and I can't wait to make it again!

(Next time I make yogurt - probably this week - I will use the crock pot method.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shortcut Sweet Chili Sauce

Recently a friend came over for lunch. I had promised her vegetable spring rolls (next time I'll make these) and at the last minute I forgot that I had run out of purchased Sweet Chili Sauce! So I threw some together from scratch (with the help of some purchased Chili Garlic Sauce). It came out really good, better than store-bought! Next time I'll make it from scratch for real, with fresh chilies, taking cues from this recipe here and this one here, but my shortcut version is super fast, easy and really hit the spot.

1 tbsp. prepared garlic-chili sauce
2 tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. potato starch

Combine the garlic-chili sauce through the fish sauce in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Whisk in the potato starch and simmer until slightly thickened, about a minute. Remove from heat. Cool before serving. The sauce will thicken a little bit more after cooking.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

No Bake Cookies, Take Two

(These cookies look like truffles. Now that I think about it, they'd be cute rolled in dutch cocoa.
Now that I really think about it, they'd be great dipped in chocolate, on a stick!)

It was the motor. Our A/C motor up and kicked the bucket the other day. Even with the fans running it was so hot in the house, and it was even hotter outside. I like to joke with the girls that Sugar, since she spends a lot of her time in the garage standing guard against unwanted creepy-crawlies that find their way in from the outside, has baked her brains because it's so hot in there. Well now I know how it feels. I can't complain, though. It only took a day for someone to come out and replace the motor. I'm pretty sure the home warranty has paid for itself in just that one visit!

So what's a gal to do when it's too hot to bake (or do anything, really) and there are no cookies for the children? (Other than going out to buy mighty over-priced ones at Whole Foods?) Conjure up some no-bake cookies that for the kids are both novel (what, raw cookies?) and fun to make, of course! These cookies get their sweetness from maple syrup, applesauce and shredded coconut. You could make them a little sweeter by including chocolate chips and rolling them in powdered sugar as desired. My girls liked making these almost as much as eating them and it made our hot afternoon a little more bearable.

No Bake Cookies, Take Two (see Take One)

1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup applesauce
6 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. coconut milk (I used So Delicious Vanilla Flavored)
1/4 cup almond butter or other nut butter as desired
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup uncooked buckwheat hot cereal
1/2 cup shredded dried coconut
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, if desired
powdered sugar for rolling, if desired

First, toast the uncooked buckwheat hot cereal in a dry skillet over low heat for several minutes until fragrant, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove from the heat and set aside until cool.

In a large bowl whisk together the coconut oil through the vanilla until smooth. In a medium bowl combine the quinoa flour through the shredded coconut (make sure the buckwheat is cool). Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir to combine. Add the chocolate chips if desired. Refrigerate the mixture until firm enough to form into balls, about an hour.

Take heaping teaspoons of dough and form them into balls with the palms of your hands. Roll them in powdered sugar if desired. Place one layer on a plate or small glass dish and cover with wax paper. Repeat to make a second layer. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Roasted Garlic and Black Eyed Pea Dip

(The black eyed peas and roasted garlic give this dip a lovely subtle smoky flavor.)

It is over 100 degrees today. It's been like that for over a month. This summer has been just Too. Darn. Hot. And guess what we woke up to at 3am last night? A horrible squealing sound coming from the closet where our A/C until lives. It sounded like a cross between a fire alarm and a car's fan belt going out. Poor Anna screamed and jumped out of bed like her pants were on fire. We turned the A/C off, waited, then turned it back on. No more squealing, which was replaced with a high-pitched whine when the unit is on. Not so fabulous, but better than the squealing.

So I called our home warranty company this morning. Their A/C fixers will come out tomorrow afternoon. Meanwhile, 12 hours after the last squealing incident, our unit starts to scream like a stuck pig again. And it's 104 degrees outside. I'm just a little bit stressed. Off goes the unit...wait a few minutes...turn it back on...nothing. Maybe it's a belt, the motor, the compressor...who knows. The fixer can't get here fast enough. I hope the A/C does not die. As I'm fretting, I need to be moving. So I'm in the kitchen, making things that don't need an oven. We are having hippie chow for dinner (this time salmon over rice), no-bake cookies for dessert, and yummy hummus-y dip for a snack. Thank goodness for rice cookers, crock pots and toaster ovens!

Roasted Garlic and Black Eyed Pea Dip
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or 2 cans drained)
1 large head garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt (more if using cooked beans, less if using canned beans)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. parsley, if desired

Preheat oven (or toaster oven!) to 375 degrees. Place the head of garlic on a piece of tin foil. Cut the tops off each garlic clove, leaving the bulb intact. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil. bring up the sides of the tin foil and fold over to make a pouch with the garlic inside. Roast the garlic about 20 minutes or until bulb is soft. Remove the pouch from the oven, unwrap the tin foil and let the garlic cool to room temperature. The roasted garlic can be stored for a day or two in the refrigerator.

Place the black-eyed peas, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, water, salt, pepper, cayenne and parsley into a food processor and process until smooth and thick. Adjust seasonings to your taste. This is good served warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gluten Free & Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Because you can never have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes, here is another. They are crispy and reminiscent of Chips Ahoy, and they are good candidates for ice cream sandwiches!

2 cups GF flour blend

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup palm shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
generous 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup dairy free, soy free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Sift together the sorghum flour through the salt, set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and the sugars until light and fluffy. Add the applesauce and vanilla, beat well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by generous teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake about 10 minutes, or until the bottoms and edges of the cookies are very lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for a minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes just over 2 dozen cookies.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Carrot Greens Pesto

Recently I splurged on a bunch of pretty rainbow-colored carrots with beautiful green tops. A friend told me you can use the greens to make pesto, so that's what I decided to do with them instead of feeding the composter. I was afraid the tops would be very bitter, so I scoured the net to find recipes featuring carrot greens. Turns out, you can use them to flavor stocks, accent salads, turn them into soup, and cook them like any other green. You can even use them as a mouthwash. I never knew! Taking a cue from this recipe, I blanched them before turning them into pesto and used cashews* to help offset any bitterness.

The verdict? This pesto is not bitter at all. In fact, it's delicious! It's surprising how much the girls love it! Anna enjoyed hers over spaghetti squash and Megan enjoyed hers stuffed into some celery. I'm doing all sorts of weird stuff lately...sprouting seeds, feeding our composting worms, making pesto out of carrot tops...the girls don't even bat their eyelids anymore. "What are you making, Mom?" "Well, my dears, I'm cooking carrot tops!" "Can we taste?" Awesome.

Carrot Greens Pesto

1 large bunch fresh carrot greens
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 - 4 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup nuts, if desired** (pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, or sunflower seeds)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Pinch off the feathery fronds of the carrot tops, leaving the stems behind (you can save those for your compost heap or use several to flavor homemade stock). Rinse the carrot greens three times in a water bath to make sure you get rid of all the grit and dirt.

Bring a pot of water to boiling. Add the carrot greens to the water and simmer for a couple of minutes, until the greens are wilted and bright green. Drain and place into a food processor with the garlic, olive oil, water, lemon juice, nuts if desired, salt and pepper. Process until combined, adding more olive oil and/or water to reach your desired consistency (I like my pesto thick). Taste and adjust salt if necessary. Serve and enjoy!

*I've been slowly reintroducing Anna to tree nuts. So far, so good...she is now able to eat hazelnuts and cashews in moderation.

**If you can't do nuts, try adding a little flax meal, 1 or 2 tbsp., to the pesto to help thicken if desired.

Peach Pie Filling

The other day I intended to make peach pie, but I ran out of time. So I threw the filling into a baking dish, topped it with Nut Free Crumb Topping, and baked it at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes and called it dessert. It was so good we called it breakfast the next day, too.

As an aside...supposedly, peaches are easiest to peel when you dunk them into boiling water for a few seconds. The skin is supposed to slip right off. I never understood all the work that goes into that...bringing water to a boil, blanching the peaches, draining them and letting them cool so you can handle them. I think it's easier and faster to take the skins off peaches with a knife - if your peaches are ripe, the skin will peel right off with little effort and nearly no mess.

Peach Pie Filling

8 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and thickly sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. tapioca flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl and toss them with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, then toss with the peaches. Use the filling for pies, cobblers, crisps, etc.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crock Pot Boston Brown Bread

I grew up with Boston Brown Bread. It is a steamed bread traditionally served with baked beans, but I liked it better served plain for breakfast with butter or cream cheese. I only ever had it from a can (B&M) and for me it was an acquired taste. It was dense and very filling, tasting strongly of wheat and rye and molasses. As is the case with so many other foods I introduce my girls to, I ran across an old recipe for homemade Boston Brown Bread for the crock pot. Not having to turn on the oven in this heat and making bread in the crock pot instead was very appealing. I thought the recipe would convert to being gluten-free and starch-free really well, so I decided to give it a whirl. I'm really happy with the result. The bread is lighter in flavor and texture than I remember the original being and I like the taste much better. The best part is that the girls really like it too. We enjoyed this for breakfast plain, but it'd also be good with Earth Balance margarine or pan-fried in a little bit of coconut oil.


crock pot
three 14.50z metal cans
tin foil
rubber bands or twine

Dry Ingredients
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup chickpea flour* (OR other flour, such as amaranth - see note below)
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup rice bran
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 cup dried currants

Wet ingredients
1 cup rice milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup molasses
about 2 tbsp. agave nectar

First, wash and dry 3 14.5 oz metal cans. Grease the insides well with canola oil or non-stick cooking spray. Cut out three pieces of tin foil to cover the tops of the metal cans and grease one side with canola oil. Have three rubber bands or pieces of twine nearby.

Set a medium pot on the stove full of water and turn the heat on high. Bring it to a boil while you make the bread batter.

In a large bowl whisk together the buckwheat flour through the allspice. Add the currants and toss to coat. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup whisk together the rice milk through molasses. Add enough agave nectar to equal 1 1/2 cups liquid, whisk well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to mix well.

Divide the batter evenly among the metal cans. Do not fill the cans more than 2/3 full. Cover the tops of the cans with the tin foil, greased side down. Secure the tin foil around the top of the cans with rubber bands or twine. Place the cans inside your crock pot and turn to low. Pour the boiling water around the cans and into the crock pot - do not pour the water on top of the cans. Fill the crock pot with water 1/3 to 1/2 full, taking care that the water does not touch the tin foil on the cans. Cover the crock pot with its lid.

Cook on low for 4 hours. Turn off the heat, take off the lid and with a potholder carefully remove the cans to a wire rack. Take off the tin foil and let the bread cool in the cans until cool enough to handle. Then turn the cans upside down and shake a little bit to release the bread from the cans. The bread should slide out easily, if not then run a butter knife between the bread and the can to help loosen. Cool bread completely before slicing.

*Because I used chickpea flour, which acts as a binder, I did not need to add any xanthan gum to my bread. However if you choose to use a different flour, such as amaranth, I recommend adding a little xanthan gum to the recipe.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blueberry Kuchen

Blueberries are on sale! I love blueberries in baked goods and decided to make some blueberry kuchen for breakfast. I decided to follow a Penzey's recipe, which converted to being gluten free and vegan splendidly. It was easy to make, taking only a few minutes to throw together, and the end result is delicious. My pictures don't do it justice.

For this recipe, I decided to replace the egg with So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt and a little baking soda. It was a great choice - the yogurt kept the tart dough moist without being sticky and the finished crumb was perfect. I have very strong feelings about how to replace eggs in my recipes. I really don't believe there is one magic bullet (or even two) to use as a replacement, so I refuse to keep Egg Replacer in the house. I'd rather pick and choose from an arsenal of potential egg replacers based on what they can offer to my baked good. Every recipe is different, every baked good has a different personality. What is the egg doing in the recipe in the first place? Is it for moisture, binding, leavening, thickening, more than one of the above, none of the above?

I like to replace eggs with one or more of these possibilities: bananas, applesauce, prune butter, avocado, yogurt, flax seed gel, chickpea flour, gelatin or pectin and a little extra leavening. Other choices I have not played with (yet) include agar agar and chia seed gel. What I first liked most about gluten-free baking was the flexibility I had with all the different flours - each lends a different taste and texture to the end product. It is the same with replacing eggs. It keeps life really interesting and challenging. I am not a chemist, just a home cook. But I love learning, I love having choices and I love thinking outside the box. It works for me - and this time, yogurt works for this kuchen!

Blueberry Kuchen

1 1/4 cups GF flour blend
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum, if desired
1/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt

1/3 cup palm shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 dry pint blueberries, rinsed
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling, if desired

1 tbsp. melted coconut oil
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. GF flour blend
pinch cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour* a 9-inch round cake pan, set aside.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour through the salt, set aside. In a large bowl cream together the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth.

Turn the dough into the prepared pan. Sprinkle a little flour evenly over top of the dough and press with your hands evenly over the bottom of the pan and 1/2 inch up the sides. Spread the blueberries over the bottom of the dough. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of the cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Combine the coconut oil through the cinnamon and stir until smooth. Take this mixture and rub between your fingers to sprinkle it over the blueberries evenly. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the edges are puffed and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before serving. Serves 6 or 8, depending on how you cut it. Or 4, depending on how hungry your kids are!

*To flour the pan, throw in a tablespoon or so of the gluten free flour blend you are using to make the dough into the pan. Tap lightly along the bottom and over the sides so a thin layer of flour covers the greased areas of the pan. Turn the pan over and tap with your fingers several times to shake loose any excess flour. Greasing and flouring the pan helps to keep the tart from sticking to the pan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

UnSoy-Ginger Dipping Sauce

Last week I tried making Gluten Free Gobsmacked's Radish Cakes. I also tried roasting them as she mentioned she'd done. As interesting as these things sounded, I'm just not sure I'm a fan of radishes. However, I am a fan of Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce! I have modified Kate's recipe to be soy-free. The coconut aminos make the sauce taste very slightly like coconut, but it's not distracting. In fact, DH really enjoyed the sauce and he's not soy-free. I'm so happy to have a sauce I can enjoy with sushi, spring rolls, rice, etc. now...I might not miss soy sauce again!

2 tbsp. coconut aminos
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. fish sauce*
1/2 tsp. lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust fish sauce and/or lime juice according to your taste. You can accent this with thinly sliced scallions if you like. Store leftovers in the refrigerator and use within one week.