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

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fudgey No Bake Cookies

 (Yes, I'm a dork.  I still like to make smiley faces out of food.  I'm sure my kids will hate that when they are older.)

It is hot...too hot to bake.  My new favorite summer cookie recipe (based on this recipe here) is super simple and kid-friendly.  They are rich and fudgey and I think they'd be sure to please just about anyone.

1/2 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
2 tbsp. almond butter
1 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats or quinoa flakes
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup almond milk
3/4 cup sugar

Place the chocolate chips, almond butter and oats in a medium bowl, set aside.  Place the coconut oil, almond milk and sugar in a medium pot over medium heat.  Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil hard for one minute (this dissolves the sugar completely so you get a creamy cookie, not a gritty cookie).  Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate chip mixture.  Stir until the chocolate is melted and the ingredients are well-combined.

Let this mixture sit for a minute while you put parchment paper on a baking sheet.  Then drop the batter by teaspoonfuls, shaping as needed, onto the cookie sheet.  The cooler the batter gets the harder it is to shape, so you need to work quickly.  Let the cookies cool on the counter (or put them into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to speed up the cooling process) before serving.  Makes about 20 cookies.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gluten Free Chocolate Rice Crispy Treats

 Megan is back to eating rice (in moderation!) with thankfully no eczema flare-ups.  To celebrate, I made these chocolate rice crispy treats.  I love these things, and so do the kids!  

1/2 bag of marshmallows (I use about 11 large Elyon Marshmallows)
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 box Nature's Path Koala Crisp cereal
1 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Line one 8x8 inch baking dish with wax paper, set aside.

If using a microwave, place the marshmallows and coconut oil in a large glass bowl.  Microwave on high for one minute, or until the marshmallows puff up and start to melt.  Stir until melted and the oil is incorporated.  If doing this on the stove, put the marshmallows and coconut oil in a large pot.  Stir over low heat until the marshmallows melt and the oil is incorporated.

Pour the cereal into the marshmallow mixture and stir vigorously to coat.  Scrape the cereal mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Press the cereal mixture evenly into the dish with your hands.

Put the chocolate chips into a small glass bowl and microwave on high for 45 - 60 seconds or until the chocolate chips start to look soft.  Stir until completely melted.  Or, put the chocolate chips into a small saucepan.  Stir over low heat until the chips begin to soften, then turn off the heat and stir until completely melted.

Pour the melted chocolate over the cereal mixture in the baking dish and spread evenly over the surface.  Cool in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens, about 30 minutes, before cutting into squares to serve.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garden Life and Fresh Vegetable Succotash

Our garden is not dead yet!  Last year everything died in July, but this year mostly everything is still alive and producing.  We are still gathering cucumbers, Swiss Chard, carrots, jalapenos and green and golden peppers.  We've gone through our garlic, beets, turnips, shallots, kale, mustard, lettuce, arugula and tomatoes, and we were able to harvest two zucchini and two butternut squash before the vine borers took the plants out.  Right now we are growing what looks like canteloupe (we can't remember which seeds we planted!), green beans, black eyed peas and amaranth.  DH planted the amaranth because apparently, you can eat the leaves like spinach.  I had no idea!  I'm looking forward to trying that.

(We've harvested lots of lemon cucumbers and green peppers this summer!)

The other night DH and I watched a PBS documentary about urban gardening.  It was all very exciting - hydroponic rooftop gardens, rooftop beehives, and urban farming in cities like Detroit.  And then I thought hey, we are urban farmers too!  Well maybe suburban farmers - although we live in a small city abutting a big city, we have a yard.  Lots of people have very small yards or no yards at all, but even then you can garden - check out these nifty ideas here!  We are getting small amounts of several vegetables from our garden and I've been throwing them together in medley dishes, when last night I surprised myself by making a fresh veggie succotash.

 (Fresh garlic from our garden turned out to have more bite than store-bought garlic!)

I have always hated traditional succotash.  Anytime it turned up on the table when I was growing up, I refused to eat it.  I remember it being some kind of corn and bean dish, like creamed corn and lima beans.  I hate lima beans.  They taste dry like sawdust in my mouth.  My mom used to make a lima bean soup and I hated that too.  The soup tasted dry and I could never wrap my head or my taste buds around dry soup.  And creamed corn from a can was almost as bad - too mushy.  It tasted sort of like corn but had none of the pleasing crunchy texture.  I could not handle the combination of mushy corn and sawdusty lima beans. Whenever succotash appeared at the table, it was all I could do to not gag. So it was a complete surprise when last night I made a veggie side dish, looked at it, and said "holy cow, I've just made succotash!".  It's funny how your roots rear up to blindside you when you've been happily munching on jalapenos and finding ways to incorporate hot sauce into all your favorite dishes.

This version of succotash is way better than what I grew up with - to start, the veggies were all fresh.  Apparently, succotash can consist of a variety of vegetables and a shell bean.  Instead of limas, I used fresh black eyed peas.  Instead of corn, I used summer squash.  The other vegetables are what I had laying around - incidentally, every ingredient save the salt and chili powder are from our garden and other friends' gardens.  I told DH last night that this turned out to be a friendship succotash, and we agreed that's the best kind of succotash there is.

Fresh Vegetable Succotash

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeds removed, and chopped
splash of white wine
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped into large pieces
1 small summer squash, quartered and sliced
1 cup fresh shelled small black-eyed peas, boiled a few minutes until tender*
chili powder to taste
salt to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook until just beginning to turn soft.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and wine, cook another two minutes.  Add the Swiss chard and cook, tossing, until beginning to soften.  Add the summer squash and black eyed peas, toss, then cover and cook another couple of minutes until the chard is tender.  Season to taste with chili powder and salt.  Serve hot.

*DH tells me that small fresh black-eyed peas don't have to be boiled at all, you can saute them until they are tender!  I'm going to try that with our next batch of black eyed peas.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fresh Pickled Jalapenos

We have two happy jalapeno plants in our garden.  Until it got hot, they produced like crazy...they've since slowed down, and now instead of staying green, the peppers are turning red.  Earlier in the season, they were fairly mild, but now with the hot weather, they have a good burn!

We were overwhelmed the other week with a big batch of jalapenos and I didn't know what to do with them.  I thought of the sad, limp and less-than-inspired little jar of jalapenos I had recently bought for some tacos and thought that I could do better than that.  So I did.  These yummy pickled jalapenos (original recipe here) have my jalapeno-loving friends asking for them for Christmas!  I don't think there's a much better affirmation of a food than that.

You can keep these fresh and store them in the fridge, and they will retain a nice crunch for a week or two before they start to soften.   You can also can them and put them away for later.  I made a big quart jar of them fresh and they didn't last long, so then I canned a few half pint jars and am hiding them until the holidays.  I think homemade pickled jalapenos go well with almost everything - my favorite way to enjoy them right now is with crackers and hummus and on pizza!

A word of caution on slicing jalapenos - you should wear rubber gloves.  I made the mistake of ignoring this advice and then suffered from jalapeno burns on my hands, which became quite painful.  It started as a tingle, then a warmness, and then my hands really hurt.  I washed my hands in vain - the oils from the peppers do not wash away with water.  Luckily, my mom was here and suggested home remedies for pepper burns.  A soak in orange juice helped a little bit, but a paste made of water and baking soda was more effective (cover hands thickly, then let paste dry - I did this twice).  Cutting hot peppers with my bare hands is a mistake I will only make once - I now have a stash of disposable rubber gloves at the ready in the kitchen!

Fresh Pickled Jalapenos

1 pound jalapenos, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
small bay leaves
several small cloves of crushed garlic
1 tbsp. peppercorns
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. sugar

Pack the jalapenos into one or more glass jars (I used one quart jar), layering with a few cloves of the garlic and 1 bay leaf in each jar (or 2 bay leaves in a quart jar).  Add the peppercorns to the jar(s). Heat the remaining ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and pour the liquid over the jalapenos.  Let sit until the liquid has cooled to room temperature and then store in the fridge. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Quinoa Jam Bars

Recently as I was perusing the gluten-free grocery aisle, I happened upon a bag of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oat Flour.  I was intrigued, but not enough to fork over $6 for a bag of it.  That seems expensive to me, but maybe I'm shopping in the wrong places.  I did, however, jot down the recipe for Raspberry Oatmeal Bars on the back of the bag.  And then instead of buying the expensive oats, I bought a box of quinoa flakes that were on sale, and went home to make some Quinoa Jam Bars based on Bob's recipe.  They turned out so good I've since made several batches of it, and the girls have yet to get bored with them.  Any jam or preserve will work here, but I'm partial to strawberry.  Very soon, I will try fig jam and with luck, will be reminded of Fig Newtons (I sure do miss those!).

1 1/2 cups GF flour blend (I used this one)*
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup palm shortening or Earth Balance Soy-Free Margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2/3 cup jam of your choice
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease the bottom and sides of one 8x8 inch baking pan with a little shortening or margarine.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour through the salt.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy.  Add the flour mixture and blend well.  The mixture will look clumpy.  Reserve one generous cup of this mixture.  Press the rest evenly into the prepared baking dish with your hands.

Combine the jam and lemon juice.  Spread the jam mixture over top of the dough in the baking dish.  Take the reserved dough and rub between your fingers to evenly cover the jam.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes until light brown and firm.  Cool before cutting into squares to serve.

*I made these for a friend who can't do sorghum.  For the flour blend I substituted 1/4 cup millet flour, 1/4 cup quinoa flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, , 6 tbsp. potato starch and 6 tbsp. buckwheat flour.  I added 2 tbsp. or so of hemp milk to the batter because it was too dry.  These changes made the bars heartier and a little less sweet, which I liked.