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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Churros - Gluten Free & Vegan

It has finally gotten hot here, and I am disinclined to turn on the oven to bake.  Whatever I can make on the stovetop or the counter is what I've been cooking lately.  Churros are a great dessert, although other parts of the world serve them for breakfast. (That is something I need to try...churros dipped in hot chocolate?  Yum!)  These little strips of fried dough are super easy to make and they make the kids smile.  It's so hard to resist the girls when they smile with a please and sparkly eyes.  What's a mom supposed to do?  Yes, I'll make churros.  I found the original recipe here.

1 cup water
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 cup All Purpose Rice flour blend
oil for frying (coconut oil is great, but canola works too)
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Heat oil for frying to 375 degrees.

In a small saucepan, combine water, 2 1/2 tbsp. sugar, salt and coconut oil.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove.  Stir the flour into the hot water, then beat with a whisk until the mixture forms a smooth and sticky ball.  Put the batter into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.  Pipe strips of dough into the hot oil a few at a time.  Fry about 2 minutes or until golden; drain on paper towels.  Roll hot churros in cinnamon sugar.  Serve warm.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Skillet Bread - Gluten Free & Vegan

I have a headache.  It's one of those dull, viselike aches that tighten and turn into a migraine if I don't take care of it.  Sometimes this happens with stress, but mostly it happens when weather is coming.  I can always tell if we are going to get weather, because the day before it arrives I'll get one of these headaches.  The weather service says we'll get weather tomorrow...I could have told them that.  I can feel it. 

When I'm not feeling good, chicken soup and biscuits really hit the spot.  (For something vegan, make vegetable soup with homemade vegetable broth.)  I make chicken soup with homemade stock every time, it's really the only way to do it.  It's easy, healthy and thrifty.  To make homemade stock, roast some chicken (whole or parts, bone-in) for dinner one night.  Save the bones, knuckles, skin and drippings - everything you don't eat.  Throw it all in the freezer for when you want to make stock, then take it and throw it all into a crock pot with some onion skins.  Add carrots, celery and parsley if available.  Cook on low in the crock pot for at least 12 hours.  Cool and strain, then store in the fridge.  When cold, the stock will gel up, like jello - that's how you know you have a stock with all the good stuff in it.

When ready to make soup, I chop an onion, a few carrots and a couple of celery stalks.  I cook them in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over low heat until they start to sweat, then I throw in some salt, thyme and pepper and cook until the onion is translucent.  If we are sick, I throw in a couple of cloves of minced garlic too.  Sometimes I'll add petite diced tomatoes and a cup of V8 (throw in some basil if you use tomatoes).  Then I add 6 - 8 cups of stock and bring just to a boil.  I add 1/2 cup of red lentils which help thicken the soup.  Sometimes I'll add 1 cup of pasta, that helps thicken the soup too.  Simmer about 20 minutes until the lentils fall apart and/or the pasta is tender.  I cook chopped chicken thighs separately before throwing them in the soup, but leftover cooked cubed or shredded chicken works well too.  That's it - fabulous every time.

The recipe that follows is for Skillet Bread.  It's actually one big biscuit.  This cooks on the stovetop while you are making soup.  I love these biscuits for their serious no-fuss quality.  I've made them several times now.  We've tried them cooked with olive oil, margarine and coconut oil, but coconut oil is our favorite.  Depending on what GF flour blend you use, they can even be flaky (best flaky results so far involve 1 3/4 cups of all purpose rice flour and 1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour Blend).  It's fun to experiment with using different flours to change the taste and texture of the biscuits.  It's even more fun that this recipe is so easy and versatile.  I adapted the original recipe from Deep South Dish here.

Skillet Bread (GF & Vegan)
2 cups all purpose GF flour blend
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 cup Enjoy Life Soy-Free Margarine
3/4 cup coconut milk
3 tbsp. coconut oil, divided

Heat one 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat.  While the skillet is heating, sift together the flour through the xanthan gum.  Cut in the 1/4 cup margarine with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine meal.  Add the coconut milk and stir until a semi-stiff dough forms.  Cut the dry bits into the dough if needed with a fork or the side of a mixing spoon.  Your dough should feel good - not sticky and not dry.  You should be able to play with it without it sticking to your hands.

Dump the dough onto a piece of wax paper that is as big as your skillet.  Knead the dough a couple of times into a ball, then pat flat into a circle about the diameter of your skillet, about 1/2 inch high.  Smooth out the raggedy edges.

Melt 1 tbsp. coconut oil in the skillet and swirl to cover the bottom of the skillet.  Carefully pick up the wax paper and transfer the dough to the skillet, flipping the dough into the skillet and peeling the wax paper off the top.  

Cover the skillet and cook about 10 minutes, or until the top looks dry and the bottom, when lifted carefully with a spatula, looks nice and browned on the bottom.  Carefully flip the bread over.  Leave it uncovered.  Spread the remaining 2 tbsp. coconut oil over the top of the skillet bread.  


Cook another several minutes until the bottom is browned.  Transfer the skillet bread from the skillet to a cutting board and let cool for several minutes, until warm (not hot).  Cut into wedges with a serrated knife and serve warm.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Tails to You

Meet Cookie, the newest member of our family.

When I say member of the family, I mean that Cookie will be a part of my classroom this coming year.  Because DH hates anything cute and furry.  (He really needs to be bald, with a long goatee, and at least one tattoo, and big clunky Docs, to be claiming intolerance of cute furry animals. Well, two out of four isn't bad.  But I digress.)

I believe that pets are good for kids.  They can teach lots of things - love, tolerance, patience, responsibility.  When met with DH's resistance, I started to think outside of the box.  (What box?)  If a small furry rodent would be a good experience for my kids, well it would be a good experience for my "other" kids.  Middle schoolers love small pets.  Usually small pets are found in second and third grade classrooms, maybe fourth grade.  But middle school?  Everyone expects them to be all grown up, when deep down inside all they want is some cute furry animal to talk to.  Problem solved.

We bought Cookie early last week.  She was cute and small, with ears that lay flat and wavy against her head.  The cat is enthralled and at the same time repulsed.  In a week, Cookie has grown to twice her "original" size, and her ears now stick straight up from her head.  Hello, cute!  We are trying to handle her as much as she will tolerate, to get her used it before going to school.  She loves to take a spin in her ball, which the cat hates.  The hamster knows this and will make a beeline for the cat at every opportunity.

Cookie is a bit of a diva.  I will need to help her to acclimate to many voices and lots of action..  After all, she will be a working hamster, one whose primary purpose will be to teach.  Last year we had a class alien, and we explored his "otherness"  and origins.  This year we will have a class hamster, whose happy Habitrail home looks a little alien itself.  We will be doing creative and descriptive writing about the hamster in class.  She is tri-colored, which will help.  We'll draw pictures of her too, to aid us in our writing. What is not to love?  I mean - cute whiskers, sticky-up ears, a butt that waggles when she runs in her wheel?  So awesome.  I'm really excited about our hamster.

I wish I could say the cat is also excited about our hamster.  And DH.  But I work with what I have.  Middle school, here we come.