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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sweet Drop Biscuits with Strawberries (Gluten Free & Vegan)

This is my last week at home before going back to school full time. I was going to be a good doobie and spend all week on lesson plans but I ended up spending the past two days baking instead.  DH gave me raised eyebrows of disapproval when I 'fessed up, but I told him that sometimes one just needs to make a Double Chocolate Pie instead of lesson planning!  In the end he agreed around a mouthful of pie.  Since he ended up being so agreeable, I decided to make strawberry shortcake (adapted from Penzey's Back to School Catalog) this afternoon!

Sweet Drop Biscuits
1 1/2 cups All Purpose GF flour blend
2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Earth Balance dairy free, soy free margarine
1/2 - 3/4 cup plain coconut milk
extra cinnamon sugar

Strawberry Topping
1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
1 - 2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar
So Delicious CocoWhip Topping, if desired

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

For the biscuits:  In a large bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the margarine with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles fine meal.  Add 1/2 cup of coconut milk and stir until you get a shaggy dough.  It should be wet but not soupy.  If it is too dry, add a little more milk.  Let the batter sit for a minute, then drop by large spoonfuls (about 1/4 cup each) 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  You should get 8 biscuits.  Sprinkle with some extra cinnamon sugar if desired.  Bake 15 - 18 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the topping:  In a mixing bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar.  Let sit until the strawberries become juicy.

To serve:  Split the biscuits carefully in half.  Arrange strawberry topping on the bottom half and top with remaining biscuit half.  Top all with a dollop of whipped topping and a strawberry.  Serve immediately.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sourdough Sandwich Bread for the Bread Machine (Gluten Free & Vegan)

My summer is quickly drawing to a close, with full-time school duties starting in just over a week.  I can't believe how fast the time has flown!  I've been busy but not manic.  I've canned several chutneys, pickles and relishes for Christmas. The girls and I have been at the pool and we've seen a few movies (yes, one was Inside Out and yes, I cried my way through it).  Megan has been screened and accepted into the orthodontist training program that Anna is a part of, and now we have two girls receiving orthodontic treatment.  

One of the more exciting projects this summer was when DH's parents visited.  DH and his father turned my  IBC tote into a rain barrel.  I finally found someone local who would deliver a 275 gallon food grade tote, already cleaned and not expensive.  It sat in the back yard for three months, its monstrosity upsetting DH who knew he'd have to do something with it.  It only took them four days, but he and his dad repurposed it and it works very well!  The day after we set it in place, Tropical Storm Bill blew through and filled it up.  A couple of weeks after that we got a little more rain, and then  nothing.  We have emptied it watering our garden during these last hot weeks.  I hope it rains again soon - the plants like rainwater much better than city water.

 The IBC tote as it terrorized DH for months.

 The IBC tote after DH and his dad cleared bushes, laid a cement foundation and wrapped it in heavy black plastic as an algae deterrent.

 The overflow port, which thankfully does not leak!

 The tote in action during a rainstorm.  DH and his dad built a cedar screen for it, which I sanded, stained and shellacked.  It looks pretty, if I say so myself.

Another little summer project was making and feeding sourdough starter to use in my summer baking.  The girls love my sourdough bread more than any other and as it got too hot to use the oven, I started baking sourdough sandwich bread using my bread machine.  It only took a few tries to get it to where I like it, and that is the recipe I'll share with you here.  I use a T-Fal bread machine - if you have a different machine, you may have to play a bit with the ratios to get a loaf you like best.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread for the Bread Machine

1 1/2 cups fed sourdough starter
3 tbsp. olive, canola or grapeseed oil
1 cup warm water

2 cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend
2 tsp. xanthan gum
3 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast

Pour the  sourdough starter, oil and warm water into the bread machine's bread pan.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour through the yeast.  Pour the flour mixture onto the sourdough mixture.  Turn the bread machine on.  You will need to help the machine knead the batter - use a soft spatula, scraping the sides and the bottom.  Watch the mixture closely - if it is too dry, add more warm water a couple of tablespoons at a time.  The mixture should be a very thick batter at first, to the point of it looking too thick.  As it keeps kneading, the batter will get smoother and not as thick, so don't add too much water!  If by chance the batter is too thin, add a little more flour or a couple of tablespoons of flax meal to thicken it up.

After several minutes of kneading, the batter should look thick and smooth and it should mound only a little bit in the middle.  Close the cover and let the bread machine do its thing.  As it bakes the top should be domed and it should look like a nicely risen loaf of regular bread.  When the baking cycle is finished, remove the bread pan from the machine.  

Run a thin spatula between the loaf and the pan to help loosen it, then shake the loaf gently out of the pan onto a cooling rack.  The bread will smell fabulous and you will want to dig in right away but don't give in to temptation!  The bread needs to cool before slicing or you'll end up with gummy bread.  When cool, slice and enjoy!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Savory Green Pea Pancakes


I continue my quest to use several bags of "emergency flours".  Today's recipe features green pea flour.  Originally it was supposed to be emergency soup, but I like it much better as savory pancakes (inspiration found here).  I adore the versatality of savory pancakes - you can make them thin, slather them with margarine and roll them up, you can top them with a little cream cheese and lox, you can turn them into open-faced sandwich  melts, or you can turn them into little round sandwiches.  I love turning them into sandwiches with a variety of fillings (chicken or salmon salad is good) and thank goodness, the girls love them this way too.  

We like these savory pancakes best made with chicken broth but I sometimes I use V8 instead of broth- it makes the pancakes taste exactly like pea soup! 

Savory Green Pea Pancakes
1/4 cup plain unsweetened coconut milk yogurt
1 cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or V8
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup green pea flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat a cast iron griddle over medium heat.

In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt through the olive oil.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the green pea flour, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the center.  Pour the yogurt mixture into the well and stir until mostly smooth.  Let the batter sit a few minutes.

Drizzle a little olive oil onto the preheated griddle.  Pour the batter onto the skillet to form pancakes of the size you desire.  Cook until the edges are dry and little bubbles form over the surface of the pancakes - the bottoms should be golden brown.  Flip and cook on the other side and cook another minute until golden on that side as well.  Remove to a plate and let cool slightly before serving warm.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hot Fudge Cake (Gluten Free & Vegan)

School is out!  Also, today is the second day of sunshine we've had after a month of record shattering rain!  The sky is blue, the ground is less squelchy by the hour, and another marathon of a school year is finished.  What better way to celebrate than with a cake?   

This hot fudge cake is super easy to make and is a great beginning cake for kids learning to bake.  Don't let the hot water poured on top of the cake throw you - as the cake bakes the water goes through the topping and the batter (I know there is a better verb for this process but it's escaping me at the moment) and ends up as a gooey fudgey goodness on the bottom of the cake.  It might not look like much, but it's a plate scraper and a pleaser every time - not too sweet, not too heavy...just right.  

(Hot Fudge Cake served with So Delicious CocoWhip Topping)

Dry Ingredients
1 cup GF All Purpose Flour blend
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp, baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (can omit if desired)
1/4 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping Ingredients
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 tbsp. cocoa powder

Magic Fudge Maker
1 1/2 cups hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Ready one ungreased 8 or 9 inch square baking dish, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing well.  Spoon the batter into the baking dish and spread evenly.  Set aside.

Whisk together the topping ingredients until no lumps remain and scatter evenly over the batter in the baking dish.  Pour the hot water (the magic fudge maker!) carefully over the surface of the batter - do not stir.  Carefully place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes.  Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Cut the cake into squares and serve warm with strawberries, ice cream or whipped cream.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thoughts on Kindness

Today was Anna's day to shed her braces and headgear, at least for the next year or so.  She now sports a nifty, thin, clear plastic retainer that is nearly invisible and way cooler than the plastic and metal one I had as a kid.  We are in a holding pattern now, where she wears the retainer to keep her teeth from moving and we wait for the rest of her remaining baby teeth to fall out before starting a second phase of braces.  She is getting orthodontic treatment at a university - we get a substantial discount and the orthdontic students get training.  It's been a great experience.  I didn't know how Anna would react to the manipulation of her teeth, the hands in her mouth, the palate expander, the headgear worn all night for months on end.  She is high functioning but still is very sensitive to touch and sound.  I told her student-in-training about the Aspergers and he took it in stride.  He was very kind and took every opportunity to tell her how well she'd done sitting in the chair for long periods of time enduring the discomfort of having hands and equipment in her mouth and impressions taken of her teeth.  He just exuded patience and grace.  Even though I thanked him every visit, he will probably never know just how much I appreciate his kindness.  Just like nobody really ever knows how they affect others.  Things that we don't think about, our words and body language and deeds, can have a profound impact on others.

The university building where Anna saw her orthodontist-in-training happens to be just a two block walk to the outpatient facility where Anna received speech and occupational therapies after her diagnosis at age three and a half.  Every time I drive by, it tugs at my heart.  Anna has no memory of the building and maybe no memory of the therapies.  But I remember everything about it.  I remember dragging a small rocking chair with us to Anna's first appointments because rocking was the only thing that would calm her.  I rememer hearing her scream bloody murder through the hallways and past closed doors when she didn't want to do the activities her therapists tried to get her to do.  I remember the fear.  I remember dragging poor bored baby Megan with us, who wondered why she never got to go do 'fun' things like her sister.  I'm sure the therapists who worked with Anna then have no memory of us now.  But I remember the difference they made in Anna's life, their kindness and dedication, which live now in my heart and mind. 

The present finds me working at a school for children with learning differences, which I love.  I do my best to be for others the goodness I've received, but I never know what's hit or what's miss.  So I was surprised by a parent the other day.  Months ago I had said something to her that I had forgotten about completely.  She caught my attention and thanked me for reaching out to her and helping make a decision that turned out to be a really good one for her child.  She told me how much she appreciated it then and how much she appreciates it now.  She spoke to me as parent to teacher, but I received it as parent to parent - because I know how she feels.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Red Beans over Millet Grits

Some time ago I was given a Bob's Red Mill gift card.  At the time I thought it'd be a good idea to get items that I could store and pull out in an emergency (I live in Tornado Alley, remember, and the threat of severe weather is never far from my mind).  So I ordered boxes of Brown Rice Farina, Millet Grits, Green Pea Flour, White Bean Flour and Black Bean Flour.  In a pinch, I could turn those items into hot cereals or soups on our grill.  The boxes sat in storage against a day we might possibly need them...until I had to pull them out and use them before they went bad.  Hmmm.  What do do with all this stuff?  

Anna loves a good hot cereal with maple syrup and nuts day or night, winter or summer, but Megan and I tend less toward sweet and more toward savory.  I try to stay away from corn as much as possible since it tends to disagree with me.  As much as I love a good polenta or corn grits, it's been years since I've indulged.  I thought maybe I could use millet grits in place of corn grits, or even in place of rice.  So I tried it with a topping of red beans one night for dinner and now I'm hooked.  Millet grits are easy and fast to prepare, delicious, and won't break the bank.  Four bags went fast and now I need to order more!  

Red Beans over Millet Grits is a low-cost, nutritious meal.  We like it so much it's entered our regular rotation, but other toppings would work well too (Cuban Black Beans, Lentils, any number of Indian dishes, etc.).

Millet Grits
1 cup millet grits
3 cups water or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. salt

Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a medium pot.  Add the millet grits, turn down the heat, and simmer 10 minutes.  Remove the cover and stir until the liquid is mostly gone.  Turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes.  (Use water to turn the grits into a hot cereal or use vegetable broth for a savory meal.)

Red Beans
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1- 2 tbsp. adobo sauce
1 cup tomato sauce (or pizza sauce or spaghetti favorite is Muir Glen Pizza Sauce)
2 cans of cooked red kidney beans, drained
chopped cilantro and lime wedges to serve, if desired

In a small bowl, combined the smoked paprika through the black pepper.  Set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and cook until just soft.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute.  Add the adobo sauce (from a can of chilis in adobo - you can mince a chili and add it too for more heat) and the tomato sauce, stir to combine. Add the drained kidney beans and the reserved spices.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to cook for several minutes.  Taste test, adding more adobo sauce if desired (I ususally use 2 tbsp. adobo sauce).  Turn off the heat and spoon over millet grits.  Serve hot with cilantro and lime wedges on the side.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Red Lentil Hummus

Hi, everyone.  Long time, no write.  I have been so flat out lately that I quite honestly just dream of sleeping.  Unfortunately, my dreams are convoluted and full of angst so I don't really feel rested, ever.  My poor husband, who lives lately to relax and detox with me over a Dr. Who episode, has had to hear excuses about how I really cannot make it through a 45 minute episode and must get some sleep now.  Even my normally constantly whirring mind is demanding a break and I'm finding myself falling asleep at the computer or as I'm trying to grade papers. 

And yet, here I am posting a recipe.  Wait, I can hear you ask, What are you doing posting a recipe when you should be cementing lesson plans for your lovely, fabulous students?  Because....because sometimes lesson plans need to wait, and the mind needs to take a break.  I mean, when you start telling your grammar students that they need to ask their sentences questions and then listen for the answers, you know it's time to unwind.  Yes, it's time to table the grammar and share a recipe.

Tonight I am choosing to post a super fast, super easy recipe for hummus.  It's not a true hummus, as it's made from red lentils, but it tastes really great and it's a nice departure from the standard chickpea hummus we've been living on for years.  Given our food sensitivities, it is not unwise to switch things up a bit and give some foods a break.  Red lentils fall apart when cooked so a huge plus to this recipe is the fact that I don't have to haul out the food processor to get a smooth consistency.  This hummus is divine served warm and drizzled with some good olive oil.

Red Lentil Hummus

2 cups dried red lentils
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8. tsp. cayenne pepper

Heat about 3 cups of water in a medium saucepan until boiling.  Add the lentils and reduce heat.  Stirring frequently to keep the lentils from ssticking to the bottom of the pot, simmer until the lentils are soft and falling apart, about 15 - 20 minutes.  You may need to add water as the lentils cook.  You want the final mixture to be thick, not soupy.  The lentils are done when you stir them with a spoon and they turn into a smooth-ish looking paste.  Turn off the heat.

To the lentils add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Ajust the seasonings to your taste.  The dip is great served warm and it will thicken as it cools. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Macaroni and Cheese - Updated

One of the hardest things to give up after the family went gluten, casein and soy free was my mom's macaroni and cheese. Over the years I tried several different recipes, some fancier than others (4 cheese, anyone?), but none held a candle to my mom's. I guarded her recipe closely, always making sure I knew where that stained 3x5 inch recipe card rested. I gave out the recipe sparingly, and everyone I made it for loved it. There's really nothing fancy about it. I think it's just the epitome of home-baked goodness in a casserole dish.

My mom's recipe has converted beautifully into a gluten/vegan/soy free version of the original with the help of So Delicious Plain Unsweetened coconut milk yogurt (which provides a nice tang) and Daiya Cheddar shreds (which provides awesome creaminess).  My mom's macaroni and cheese is still superb even after all the changes.

Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups dry GF (I like Tinkyada Brown Rice Shells or Rotini)
2 tbsp. Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF flour blend 
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup So Delicious plain unsweeteend coconut milk
1 cup So Delicious plain unsweetened coconut milk yogurt
one 8oz. package Daiya shredded cheese, your choice
 GF breadcrumbs (I use EnerG)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Smear a medium casserole dish with olive oil, set aside.

Whisk together the coconut milk and yogurt until smooth, set aside.

Cook the dry pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain and put in a medium bowl, set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Whisk together the flour, salt, pepper and mustard powder, then whisk into the olive oil, forming a smooth paste. Cook a few seconds until slightly thickened and bubbly. Add the yogurt mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens. Add the shredded cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Remove cheese sauce from heat.  Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat.

Spoon the cheesy pasta into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven. Serve hot. Yield: About 4 servings.

(See Mom? It's so awesome! I know you would love it!)