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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gluten Free and Vegan - Double Chocolate Cookies!

(There are not many better things in life than a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk!
Featured here is So Delicious Coconut Milk.)

Okay. Not to toot my own horn (although I kinda do, don't I, by blogging?). But seriously, I just made what may be my best batch of gluten free & vegan cookies yet! These cookies are soft, not too sweet, with a double punch of chocolate that simply begs for a glass of cold milk (casein free, of course!) to wash them down. They are not gritty, not crumbly and very honestly awesome. You know, the kind of awesome that when you bite into them, all you can do is smile. Which is exactly what the girls did, and they are not usually at a loss for words. I love it when that happens. ("Oh, a moment of peace and quiet! Here, have another cookie!" No, I promise I don't do that...much.)

The inspiration for this recipe comes by way of Gluten Free Goddess, check out her recipe and beautiful picture here. I ended up combining two different recipes (Vegan Chocolate Chip and Mexican Hot Chocolate) because they are the most fail-safe cookie recipes in my arsenal. Their progeny definitely did not let me down!

Double Chocolate Cookies

Dry Ingredients
1 2/3 cup GF flour blend (I used this one)
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk or other casein-free alternative
1/4 cup plain applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour through the xanthan gum, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the canola oil through the vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth and the oil is fully incorporated. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat with a fork until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. The dough will be thick and goopy (an awesomely chocolatey good kind of goopy).

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet leaving 2 inches of space between each cookie to allow for spreading. Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for one minute before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

(I don't know about you, but I see visions of coconut milk ice cream sandwiched between two of these cookies!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sprouting Lentils, Trial One

Ever since a good friend gave us some of his excess lentil sprouts last summer (which were super delicious), I've been meaning to sprout my own. It's been several months and I finally got around to it. In all honesty, a friend who is greener than I am showed me how and talked me through it - apparently, she's been sprouting seeds and grains and legumes for years. Well, now I want to jump on the boat, especially after she extolled the virtues of sprouted mustard seeds. I can't wait to try those!

But for now, I can sprout lentils. I just used ye olde package of lentils laying around on a grocery shelf for who-knows-how-long. Thankfully, they were not too old to sprout. My friend said to do this:

Pour one thin layer of lentils into a long shallow dish. Cover them with water and let them sit for an hour or two. Drain them, making sure they remain in a single layer. Put them in your cabinet (or other dark, cool place).

Rinse the lentils once per day, making sure after each rinse they remain in a single layer. After a day or two, you will see them start to sprout. After 5 days, they should be sufficiently sprouted and you can enjoy them (I like mine sauteed in coconut oil with a bit of salt and pepper).

My friend says we happen to live in a dry area, so we can sprout this way without having to fear the lentils growing mold or rotting. Other people sprout using a jar or bowl and a cheesecloth, and I want to try that next to see if I can get more sprouted lentils using less real estate. Trial Two to commence soon following these instructions here!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cold Roasted Golden Beets with Maple Balsamic Dressing

I have a few weaknesses. One is for cookbooks. Another is for pretty produce. Imagine my intrigue when I saw golden beets the other day! They were such a lovely color and they were not any more expensive than red beets - I had to buy them. I brought them home, lopped off the greens and roasted the roots. While the beets were roasting, I sauteed the greens* with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper (they were yummy). When the beets were done roasting and had cooled, I slipped off their skins and cut off the ends. They were so pretty with their concentric circles, so I sliced them into rounds. They tasted sweeter than red beets, so I tossed them with a maple balsamic dressing (based on this recipe here). They were good warm. They were good at room temperature. And they were even better the next day cold and straight out of the refrigerator. Folks, I am a total fan of golden beets. One of these days I hope to get my kids to try them on their own...until then, I may try slicing these beets thinly and hiding them in their sandwiches. Think I can get away with it?

1 bunch golden beets
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 generous tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. dijon mustard
pinch each salt and pepper
snipped chives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Snip off the beet greens*, leaving at least 1 inch of the stems attached to the beets. Rinse the beets and place them into a baking dish. Pour water into the dish about 1/2 inch deep. Cover the dish with tin foil. Place the beets in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until the beets are tender and easily pierced with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

When the beets have cooled, slice off the ends of each and slip off the skins with your fingers. Slice each beet into 1/4" thick circles. Place the beet circles in a shallow dish in a single overlapping layer. Whisk together the olive oil through the pepper and pour over the beets. Scatter snipped chives over all. Serve cold or at room temperature.

*Save your beet greens and saute them - wash the greens and tear them into large chunks (or, if you want to be fancy, roll them up cigar-like and slice them into strips). Heat a little olive oil in a skillet and add 2 large minced cloves garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for a minute, then add the beet greens and toss to coat. Cook, stirring, until the greens are wilted. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Turnip Greens with Garlic and Mustard

I have been too busy to play with new recipes for baked goods recently (though hopefully soon that will change, because I'm dying to tackle crumpets!). Instead, I have been having fun cooking vegetables. In the past week I've made beets, beet greens, kale, cabbage, cauliflower soup (which Megan begs me to make) and now, turnip greens. I've been meaning to try turnip greens for awhile since they are chock full of calcium!

I made these turnip greens simply and took cues from this recipe here (the greens sauteed with mustard sounded good). I really liked these greens, though I'm not sure how much of that is due to my taste preferences...I rather enjoy the bitter taste of greens (I also happen to be one of those weirdos who don't rinse quinoa because I like the slightly bitter taste). Although I think turnip greens are not very bitter at all, DH seems to think they are a little bitter, like mustard greens. He thought they were good, but I thought they were very good.

So I enjoyed these turnip greens immensely for dinner the other night, and the next day their cleansing properties took me a little by surprise! I told my mom this and she laughed at me (thanks, Mom). She says it's traditional in the spring to do a liver cleanse (or spring cleaning of sorts), and her family enjoys dandelion greens, fiddleheads and scoke (honestly, I have no idea what that is but my mom insists I've had it before) in the springtime. Anyway, I like the turnip greens so much that I'll just have to desensitize myself to them. I hope that happens, because they are yummy...with mustard...chock full of calcium...greens, fabulous greens! I totally crave them (and for that, I totally blame Anna).

1 large bunch turnip greens
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and remove the spines from the turnip greens (save the spines for your composter, if you have one!). Tear into large chunks. Set aside. There is no need to spin them dry.

Whisk together the wine, water and mustard. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute or until fragrant. Add the wine mixture and stir. Add the turnip greens, turning to coat, and cook for one minute. Cover the pot with a lid, turn down the heat and simmer about five minutes. Uncover the pot and cook another five minutes or so, stirring frequently, until most the the liquid has been absorbed and the greens are wilted. Serve hot.

*This made enough for two large portions for two hungry adults. I served these with millet...turnip greens tossed with millet turned out to be a nice light dinner, though they would be good tossed with pasta or rice or quinoa, too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Homemade Lemonade

Our weather here has been see-sawing between temps in the 60's to the 80's. People have been running around flaunting flip flops and tank tops one day in 85 degree heat, and then...psych! The next morning day it's 45 degrees. Soon the temps will even out and summer will be here. And what better way is there to welcome summer than with a glass of homemade lemonade?

1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
6 cups water
thinly sliced lemons for garnish
fresh sprigs of crushed lavender or mint, if desired, to play with the flavor a bit

Combine lemon juice and sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the water and stir to combine. Serve chilled with lemon slices for garnish.

*You can play with the amount of sugar and water to make it more sweet or more tart as you like. After years of tweaking, the above ratios have turned out to be my favorite.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spicy Sweet Potato Curry

I love soups and curries. DH bought an Indian cook book a year ago and has been working through different Indian-inspired recipes - one of the things I like most is the addition of dried red chilies to the soups and curries he has been making. He makes a mean lentil dish with chilies and's so spicy and addictive that I've been known to hide it from him and keep it to myself. I'd feel guilty about that, but he eats all the potato chips in the house. So there, DH. You share the potato chips and I'll share the lentils. Deal?

Anyway, I made Spicy Potato Curry last week and wanted to make another curry this week, so I chose a recipe featuring sweet potatoes. The original recipe calls for chicken, but I prefer vegetarian curries lately, and I think that cauliflower works nicely here. I've messed around slightly with the original recipe in other ways too and have added dried red chilies to it. I like it. I can't handle as much heat as DH and three peppers is enough for me, but you might want to add twice the chilies for a nice burn.

This recipe makes enough for 6 hungry adults. I've made it twice recently and it's gone too fast to snap pictures of it. Gosh darn it, I'll just have to make it again!

2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground tumeric
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (plus more as desired)
1 bay leaf
3 dried Sanaam peppers, whole or chopped (plus more as desired -I get them from Penzey's Spices)

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly vertically sliced
1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (plus more as needed)
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 small head cauliflower, washed and cut into 1" florets
1 14.5oz can chickpeas, drained
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 - 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Combine the curry powder through the Sanaam peppers in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pot (I like using my Le Creuset dutch oven). Add the onion and cook about 7 minutes or until softened. Stir in the ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning. Add the curry powder mixture and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the vegetable broth, undrained tomatoes, sweet potato, cauliflower and chickpeas and stir to combine. Add a little more vegetable broth if needed. Cover and cook 15 - 20 minutes or until the sweet potato and cauliflower are cooked through. Turn off the heat and add the green peas and the lemon juice to taste. Adjust the salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Discard the bay leaf. Serve hot over brown rice.