Sunday, December 26, 2010

GF Spritz Cookies and Sarah's Sorghum-Millet All-Purpose Flour Blend

So how has your Christmas season been?  We are having a great time with family and friends.  We went to visit family on Thursday evening to celebrate Christmas as well as Cassie's and Nathan's birthdays.  I baked all day Friday, preparing a variety of GF cookies for Christmas Day, and then we had some friends and family over for brunch (Baked Oatmeal, scrambled eggs, bacon, and all-natural breakfast sausage) and dinner (roast beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, gravy) on Christmas.  All of my cookies received great feedback, so I thought I'd share some of what I have done.

Please ignore the plastic wrap in the corner.  I just unwrapped this plate to take the picture.  I also had to put some chocolate-containing cookies in a baggie (seen peeking out from under the gingerbread cookie) to protect my dad from the chocolate.

Chuck's favorite was the Spritz Cookies.  First I made a batch using this recipe from Gluten Free Homemaker.  They were good but they had the typical texture and flavor of cookies made with white rice flour (I really don't like white rice flour.).  I adjusted the recipe to make it less gritty and crumbly, and more like the texture and flavor I remember from when I used to make gluten-filled ones (also added whole grains).  I don't know if I will be adjusting this recipe further to make it lower-carb.  We really liked it the way it was, and I'm not sure that the higher protein flours I use (blanched almond flour and coconut flour) would provide the right texture dough to use in the spritz gun.  I will have to think about it.  However, I am not completely anti-carbs.  I just try to limit how much we have, so in moderation I think it's ok.

Then I made Gingerbread Cookies using a recipe I found at Only Sometimes Clever.  I mostly stuck to her version since I usually try to make the original once before I start making changes.  However, I did substitute teff flour for the amaranth since I love teff flour and hate amaranth, and also because I think the color and flavor of teff flour really goes with molasses and gingerbread.  I used Authentic Foods Brown Rice Flour Superfine (I found it at Wegmans), which doesn't give baked goods the gritty texture usually associated with brown rice flour.  I also had to increase the liquid in the recipe by about 1/4 cup, which I did gradually, 1 Tbs at a time.  Please note if you make these cookies, the dough really dries out fast, so make sure you cover the dough that is waiting to be rolled out as you are working with other dough.  If it does dry out, you can add 1 Tbs. of water and knead it in.  We really liked these cookies.  I will definitely make these again, though I will be trying to change the recipe to be more "carb-friendly."   

You may note that I didn't decorate my gingerbread cookies.  What can I say?  I'm a minimalist when it comes to cookies.  I don't really like frosting (I make it for the benefit of those who do), and I don't feel the need for candies and extra sugars on cookies.  I did let my kids decorate cookies, but by the time I got to the gingerbread ones, the kids had lost interest in baking and were on to more "fun" things!  LOL!  If I could find my gingerbread boy cookie cutter, the kids and I might have decided to add eyes and things, but I couldn't, so we didn't!  If you want to decorate your gingerbread cookies, by all means, please do!

I made a batch of cookies using a Kinnikinnick cookie mix.  I dipped them in cinnamon-sugar for the kids.  They were ok, though not as good as the from-scratch cookies I made.

I made a couple of batches of my Raspberry Bars Supreme, which turned out great.

Lastly I made several batches of Christmas Wreath Cookies that my grandmother always used to make.  My sister had mentioned to me that she was making them, and I was very glad to get the recipe from her since I had been thinking of them myself as memories from childhood Christmases had been coming to mind.  Again, definitely not low-carb and not really able to be made in that way.  However, we don't usually eat a lot of cookies, so it's ok for special occasions.

I will include my recipe for GF Spritz Cookies here now, and I'll share the recipes for several other cookies some time soon.  Enjoy!

GF Spritz Cookies
2/3 c. sugar
1 c. non-hydrogenated shortening* (I filled the cup mostly with shortening and then finished filling it with
     Earth Balance baking sticks or ghee to get a buttery taste without casein)
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. almond extract (or add'l vanilla)**
a few drops red or green food coloring (optional)
2 c. Sarah's Sorghum-Millet All-Purpose Flour Blend (see below)
3/4 t. xanthan gum
1/2 t. salt
sugar sprinkles (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Cream the sugar and shortening, then add the egg, vanilla extract, almond extract, and food coloring, mixing well.  Mix in the dry ingredients well.  Spoon the dough into your spritz gun.  Spritz the cookies onto your cool, ungreased cookie sheet.  (These cookies don't really spread, so don't worry about having to space them far apart from each other.)  If you want to add sprinkles to your cookies, sprinkle them on and gently, lightly press them onto the cookies.  Bake for 6-8 minutes, just until the edges turn slightly golden.

*I never use Crisco!  I use non-hydrogenated shortening.  There are several brands out there.  I have used Spectrum and Tropical Traditions, each with equally good results.  They are much better for you than the hydrogenated shortenings that are so popular.  If you can have dairy, you can use butter instead of shortening and margarine.  Ghee will also give a butter flavor because it is clarified butter, but it is lactose and casein free.  It's expensive, so I mix it with shortening.

**One variation my husband especially liked was my red spritz cookies.  Instead of using the almond extract, I used 1/4 t. peppermint oil.  I'm thinking about melting some dairy-free chocolate chips and dipping some of these halfway into the melted chocolate!  mmmm!

Sarah's Sorghum-Millet All-Purpose Flour Blend

I know I have mentioned my sister, Sarah, before.  I got this recipe from her.  She uses it for pretty much everything, now, instead of the previous blend she had given me that I shared before.  She doubles or triples this recipe and stores it in gallon-sized ziploc bags.

3 c. sorghum flour
1 c. millet flour
1 1/3 c. potato starch
2/3 c. tapioca starch

On Monday we'll be traveling to Chattanooga, Tennessee to go to a teen conference called, The Ramp. Hubby and I are going with our church youth group--we're chaperones!  I will have to do some baking and shopping to prepare for that over the next couple of days.  Believe me, it's not gonna be easy going on a 5-day trip with 3 kids and myself needing to eat gluten free and mostly dairy free!  My brother-in-law is being gracious and will be house-sitting and will take care of our beloved dog and cats.  We are so blessed!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Raspberry Bars Supreme

Today has been a good day for me.  I spent time preparing for a Bible study that my husband and I do, then I baked these delicious raspberry bars that received rave reviews!  Before I share my recipe, let me say that I have been reading 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes by Carol Fenster.  I haven't tried very many of her recipes, yet, but I do plan on trying some.  I did, however, make her Raspberry Bars, which were good, but very rich and sweet for my taste.  Everyone loved them, but you know me.  I have made it my goal to cut down on the starches and carbs in my life for several reasons:
     1.  They make me gain weight.
     2.  Too many simple carbs and starches in your diet may lead to Diabetes.
     3.  I have lots of friends and relatives who have Diabetes and can't eat my GF Recipes unless they are 
     4.  I know there are a lot of people out there who have both Celiac Disease/Gluten Intolerance and
          Diabetes.  They are discouraged because they can't eat most of the GF recipes and goodies out there.
     5.  I want to train my children to eat healthy and set them up for a healthy adult life.
I want to create recipes that everyone can enjoy!  Tasty treats that make people want to come back for more, that are still healthy.

Anyway, so I tried Carol's Raspberry Bars.  They tasted good, but it seems that most of her recipes call for her flour blend, which is more starch than it is flour, and this recipe is no exception.  I decided to make my own version, and I think I've finally arrived at a delicious bar that everyone loves.  In fact, one of my toughest critics came back asking for more!

On a side note, sadly the pomegranates I posted about the other day did not make it to another salad that I could document and photograph a recipe of to share.  We ate up all the pomegranate seeds plain and have decided that we simply must make another trip to Wegmans to purchase more!  I'm sure I will post a recipe at some time in the future, perhaps when the initial novelty of eating them straight wears off, and we have the patience to wait for me to actually make something with them!

Please bear with my picture taking skills.  I know that the picture below doesn't do these bars justice, but until I am able to take a photography class or something...

Without further ado, here is my latest recipe:

Raspberry Bars Supreme
2 c. blanched almond flour--or try almond meal or even just processing almonds in your processor with the
       dates--if you try processing them, let us know how it works out for you by posting a comment
8 pitted Deglet dates
1/2 c. melted coconut oil
1/4 c. honey or agave nectar--agave nectar is lower on the glycemic index
1 t. vanilla--make sure it's GF
2 1/2 c. GF whole rolled oats--I use Bob's Red Mill
3/4 t. dried lemon zest/peel--or zest a lemon yourself, not sure how much fresh zest to use
1/2 t. sea salt

1 1/3 c. raspberry preserves (I like the Polaner All Fruit, or Crofter's)
3/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips* (Ghirardelli makes DF semi-sweet chips, or use Enjoy Life DF, GF, SF
      semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Grease a 9x13 pan, line with parchment paper (leaving a little paper overlapping the ends of the pan), and lightly grease the parchment paper.  Process the almond flour and dates in your food processor until the dates are finely chopped and processed into the flour, making sure not to process long enough to turn the flour into almond butter.  In a small bowl, whisk the oil, honey, and vanilla.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, pour your oats, lemon zest, and salt and start mixing.  As they are mixing, add the almond flour mixture and the oil mixture.  Mix until everything is well incorporated.

Gently press half, or slightly more than half, of the mixture into the bottom of your prepared baking pan.  Then evenly spread the raspberry preserves on top of the bottom layer.

Add the chopped walnuts and shredded coconut to the remaining mixture that is still in your mixing bowl.  Mix until it is well incorporated.  Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the raspberry preserves layer in your baking dish and gently pat it down.  Sprinkle on the chocolate chips and pat down into the topping.

Bake at 375 F for 30-35 minutes, or until the topping is golden.  Remove pan from oven and place on a cooling rack.  Cool in pan.  Remove from the pan after cooled or mostly cooled by gently lifting on the parchment paper at either end of the pan.  Place back on cooling rack if not completely cooled.  Cut into bars after completely cooled.  OR, if you're like my family, you can eat this warm.  It is harder to cut and crumbles a little more, but it's very yummy!

*This got rave reviews.  Everyone loved the bars with the chocolate, though a few commented that the chocolate was unnecessary--the bars would be just as good without!

Final Notes and Giveaways:
One of my favorite GF recipe site is  I love looking at Kelly's recipes and photos.  Everything looks so good, and she uses very little refined sugars and mostly high-protein flours, like almond flour and coconut flour, which I love to use myself.  Kelly recently published her second cookbook, The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts.  While I have not personally looked at this book or tried very many of her recipes, rather just drooling over them and gathering ideas (I'm too busy to spend a whole lot of time baking right now), I think this cookbook would be really great for someone who has to eat GF and low-carb.

That said, Shirley, over at Gluten Free Easily, another great recipe site, is hosting a free giveaway for this very cookbook.  Click here to learn how to enter the giveaway!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pomegranates for Dinner Tonight

Tonight was really a low-key night for us.  We had a very busy weekend, doing balloons and face painting for Andrew's Good News Christmas Party at Davis College yesterday.  We always enjoy working with AGN and had a lot of fun ministering to the local community.  However, my body is usually sore and just tired after a long evening (or day) of face painting, so I just didn't have the energy to do anything ornate or complicated for dinner tonight.  After church today I had to run some errands, so by the time I got home today it was almost 4 pm!  The kids were gracious and helped out with dinner.  Elijah and Cassie made hamburgers, while Nathan prepared a couple of pomegranates we bought at Wegmans Friday morning.  I had already washed and spun dried the romaine lettuce and spinach Friday afternoon, so that was done and waiting to be made into the beautiful but simple salad I had planned for it...

My grandfather is Greek.  I spent a ton of time with my grandma and grandpa when I was growing up, meaning that I also spent time with and made friends with some of grandpa's Greek friends' children.  These friends had a local Greek restaurant and spent a lot of time cooking ethnic Greek food.  I remember them bringing Greek foods over to my grandpa because they knew he appreciated and missed them.  I recall one time my friend brought over a pomegranate to his house when her mom was visiting my grandparents.  She was just eating the seeds and exclaiming how wonderful it tasted.  I had never seen a pomegranate before and asked her what it was that she was eating.  The only time I had ever heard of the pomegranate was in a Greek myth book that I loved to read, a story about Persephone and Hades.  Anyway, I was very curious about this fruit, and my friend could not believe I had never seen or tasted one before.  She offered me a seed, but when I tasted it I thought it was the most tart, sour-tasting fruit I had ever tried.

I have not been able to ignore the fact that pomegranate juice has become all the rage now.  It's everywhere.  My children are always begging to try new fruits and vegetables, and this past Friday morning was no exception.  Cassie and Nathan were with me at the store and saw the pomegranates displayed by the door.  They instantly rushed over to the mountain of red fruits, like bugs to a bug zapper.  "Oh, mom, we've NEVER TRIED these before!  PLEASE!!  They're ONLY $2 EACH.  They're on SALE!  PLEEEASE!"  Well, how can I say no to my children who are begging to eat something healthy?  Besides, I have tried some juice drinks with pomegranate juice in them over the last couple of years, and they weren't bad.  I sent Nathan over to a Wegmans employee to ask how to tell if a pomegranate is ripe.  I gotta say, I love Wegmans customer service.  A very knowledgeable and helpful woman came over with him and proceeded to explain the whole process to us in very great detail, helping us pick out a couple of fruits.  She then explained the best way to extract the juicy seeds, several times.  She also told me about a salad she planned on making that night with the seeds.  Then she went into the back room to print off a copy of instructions they have that explain the process of getting the seeds out and how to freeze them (I didn't ask her to do that, she offered and was gone before I had time to even think about whether or not it was necessary.), leaving me standing there thinking about the salad she was going to be making, how good it suddenly sounded to me, and what else I would add to the salad if it were me making it.

I brought home my stash of pomegranates, and other salad goodies, and quickly hid them in the produce drawer in the fridge without a word (out of sight, out of mind, right?), hoping that the kids would forget about the pomegranates until I could make the salad.  (My vultures children have a knack of inhaling food that they like before I have had a chance to enjoy it or use it in a recipe--I'm sure you can't relate, right?!)  They did ask once, but I told them they would have to wait until the salad.

Anyway, tonight was the night for our beautiful salad.  Nathan followed the directions for cleaning the seeds out of the pomegranate skin, Elijah peeled and sectioned several clementines, I had already rinsed and spun the lettuce and spinach, and Elijah sliced some canned black olives.  Cassie and Elijah made some hamburgers, using a special blend of spices that Elijah made up tonight. 

I didn't even try tasting the pomegranate seeds until they were on the salad because I was afraid they would be sour and would taint my opinion of the salad before I even tried it.  Anyway, the salad was delicious.  I loved the pomegranate so much that after I ate my salad Elijah and I sat and ate a couple of handfuls of pomegranate seeds.  They were sweet and juicy and delicious, the highlight of tonight's meal (IMHO--In My Humble Opinion).  I will be making a similar salad tomorrow but will be adding toasted walnuts.  I will take a picture and post it tomorrow evening if all goes according to plan.

I am also working on a recipe for raspberry bars.  I have it almost perfected and will post about it soon.  I might make a batch of them tomorrow for a Girl Scout Christmas party.  We'll see.  I still have to help Moriah dip some spoons into melted chocolate chips and chopped/crushed candy canes for her secret santa gift to one of the girls in her troop.  Then I have to make a veggie platter.  It would be nice to bake something GF, though, since all the other girls will be eating cookies and such.  I'll have to see how my morning goes.  I'll have to let you all know what I end up doing, if it's blog-worthy.

I'll talk to you soon.  Have a blessed evening.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I am truly grateful for my children and husband, my extended family, my friends, my church, my home--all of the many blessings God has bestowed on me.  There are so many things to be grateful for, that I refuse to allow Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Dairy Intolerance, or food allergies to interfere with our ability to enjoy our holidays!  (For those of you who are interested in my thoughts concerning CD and its affects on my life and to read a post that I just did yesterday concerning Thanksgiving and CD, click here.)

So how much time did you all spend in the kitchen Thanksgiving Day?   I'm just curious because I spent all day long in the kitchen, making up new recipes.  I had a lot of fun doing it, and since our Thanksgiving holiday lasts from Thursday through Sunday (Thanksgiving Dinner at my mom's), I really didn't mind spending all that time cooking, and I came up with some delicious recipes and some ideas for making certain things ahead of time next year which will make my next Thanksgiving Day much easier.

I was speaking to my sister on the phone Thursday, and, of course we were talking about what food we were making.  She asked me to post some of the recipes on here for her (and you) to try.  Even though I only made these things once, I figured I would go ahead and share.  Just be aware that these recipes may change just a little after Christmas since I will be making them again and tweaking things just a touch.  This is just bare bones here right now--no pictures or huge explanations.  I wasn't planning on posting these just yet, so I didn't take pic's. and don't have time to write out all the directions in detail.  I'm just putting these up real fast before I leave for the day, so my sister (and you) can look at them.  I will come back later and edit this post to include pictures and directions, so make sure to check again later if you want more direction.  I'm basically sharing our Thanksgiving Day Menu with you.  Some of the items listed are not accompanied by recipes since I am assuming you already have your own way of making these basics.  Enjoy!

11/29/10 Edit--I took these dishes to my mom's dinner yesterday and got some feedback.  I also took them to my in-laws' house and got feedback there, as well.  Basically, the Crockpot Candied Sweet Potatoes and the GF Cornbread and Rice Blend Stuffing got rave reviews.  Nobody really tried the Green Bean Casserole because they were all so full from all the other food, and there was already a dairy and gluten-filled green bean casserole there for them to eat.  The Cranberry and Orange Chutney was liked.  I got a little bit of mixed feedback.  My mother felt it wasn't sweet enough, so more sugar is needed.  My grandmother thought it was perfect the way it was, but she has Diabetes and normally eats things with a lot less sugar than most people.  So, I think that you will have to taste it and see if you need to add more sugar.

One more thing, my Green Bean Casserole was not made with mushrooms or mushroom flavoring because Nathan and Chuck hate mushrooms.  However, Nathan could not get past the IDEA of it being a green bean casserole that LOOKED like regular green bean casserole, had a similar TEXTURE as a regular green bean casserole, and a similar TASTE?  Really?  Even without any mushrooms?  LOL.  I guess next time I attempt this, I will just count him out because those are the very traits I am trying to mimic with this casserole, and that's what he doesn't like!  :-)  Chuck liked it, though.  Otherwise I would have to consider making it with canned mushroom pieces and some mushroom stock instead of turkey stock, because I kind of miss the cream of mushroom flavor, though I still liked my version.  

Lastly, please keep in mind that these recipes make A LOT.  For instance, the stuffing recipe makes enough stuffing for 3 meals for us.  Of course, it all depends on how big the servings are, how many other sides you have, etc., but I would plan on having leftovers.  I haven't tried freezing this, yet, but I am definitely going to try it and see how it tastes after being frozen for awhile.  If you want less, just cut the recipe in half.  Personally, we love having leftovers.

Crockpot Candied Sweet Potatoes--Nate's favorite meal item of all, and he's a VERY picky eater!
4 lbs. sweet potatoes
4-6 apples
1/2-3/4 c. maple syrup
few handfuls craisins
few handfuls chopped walnuts
1/2 c. Earth Balance
cinnamon to taste

Turkey and Gravy
Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole
16 oz. mimic creme
2 c. turkey broth
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast
2 t. Herbamare (more or less to taste)
1 t. Worcestershire sauce (make sure it's GF--in the U.S.A. regular Lea & Perrins is GF, but double check label)
1 t. lemon juice
1/4-1/2 t. black pepper (to taste)
1/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
6-7 Tbs. sweet rice flour
1/2-3/4 c. blanched almond flour, GF bread crumbs,
    OR a batch of homemade GF French Fried Onions
    (I used almond flour because I didn't have time for the onions, however I will be making them for the next batch!)

GF Cornbread and Rice Blend Stuffing--turned out excellent--Elijah said, "Mom, it tastes like it's got gluten!"
1 batch GF cornbread (12 muffins or 1-9x9)
7 slices Udi's GF sandwich bread (or use your own homemade GF bread)
2 c. Lundberg Farms gourmet brown rice mix
4 c. turkey broth
1 t. herbamare
1 lb. ground sausage
7 stalks celery
3 large carrots
1 large onion
2 Tbs. dried parsley
2 t. herbamare
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2 t. sage
1/2 t. thyme
5 c. turkey broth

Cranberry Orange Chutney
4 c. cranberries
2 oranges
3/4 c. organic sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. orange juice
3 Tbs. arrowroot

Organic Cranberry Sauce (from a can for Nate since he can't have oranges)

GF/DF Pumpkin Cheezecake--needs more work, turned out like pumpkin pie, not cheezecake
2 c. almond flour
1 c. walnuts
1 c. soft pitted dates
1/2 t. salt
3 c. cashews, soaked
1-2 c. water
1 can pumpkin
1/2 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. honey
4 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 + 1/8 t. cloves

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Chowder--Dairy Free and Gluten Free

Today I made another batch of Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Chowder, just because it was so good that basically the whole pot of soup got eaten the other night when we had it!  I'm not sure how it happened since I dished out a bowl for each person and then went to the family room for a few moments of relative quiet. I didn't think it would be so liked that the kids would eat the rest of the pot when left on their own for a few moments.  ("Mom!  I ate 4 or 5 bowls all myself!!")  I guess that's a good thing, though, considering how my boys have been so picky with the dairy free attempts I have made in the past.  If they loved it enough to inhale it, they deserve to have as much as they want this one time after being dairy free and feeling deprived for so long.  Another good test is that my husband and brother-in-law couldn't tell the soup was dairy free, and they loved it, too.  I served the soup with cornbread muffins made using Bob's Red Mill GF Cornbread Mix.

I decided to put my soup to another test tonight before posting the recipe.  I took some to our friends' house for them to try.  Everyone loved it and couldn't tell it was dairy free until I told them.  Everyone who tried it said I should share the recipe, so I decided it was time to share:

Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Chowder
4 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. dry white wine*
5 russet potatoes, cubed
3 lbs. frozen or fresh california blend veggies, cut in bite-sized pieces
     (carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower)
1 onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 c. chopped, cooked chicken
4 c. almond milk + 1 c. for making slurry
1 pkg. original unsweetened MimicCreme
6 Tbs. GF nutritional yeast (nooch)
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. dried parsley
2 t. salt
2 t. herbamare
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. ground celery seed
1/4 t. ground mustard
1/4 c. sweet rice flour

Pour the chicken stock and wine in a large pot.  Add the potato cubes and simmer.  As the potatoes are simmering, cut your other vegetables into bite-sized pieces, and chop your onion and garlic.  Add the veggies, onion, and garlic to the soup pot when the potatoes are almost tender.  If your vegetables are fresh (raw), then you will want to add the carrots at the same time as you add the potatoes, or perhaps even a minute or two before the potatoes, depending on how big your pieces are cut.  You will want to add fresh cauliflower and broccoli after the fresh carrots and potatoes have cooked for a little while, but before they are fully tender.  I used 1 lb. frozen carrots and 2 lbs. frozen California Blend veggies for convenience sake.  Add the 4 c. almond milk and the package of Mimiccreme.  Bring your soup to a simmer, cooking on medium heat and stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick.  Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and all the herbs and spices.  Add the chopped chicken.  Allow your soup to simmer until the potatoes and vegetables are tender.

While your soup simmers, make a slurry by thoroughly whisking the sweet rice flour with additional almond milk (or a little water if you don't have more almond milk).  I used about 3/4 c. almond milk to the 1/4 c. flour, though you could use a little more or less.  When the veggies are about tender, stir the slurry into the soup.  Continue stirring the soup until it has thickened and the rice flour has "cooked" into the soup--you don't want a rice flour taste or texture in your soup.  Remove from heat and enjoy!

*I used a dry honey wine from Montezuma Winery, though it appears that may not be available at this time.  Next time I make this, I will try a dry American Sauvignon Blanc as suggested here.  If you don't want to use wine, you might try a white wine vinegar, though I don't know how much you would use, and I believe the results would taste different than if you used actual wine. 

1/26/12--Update:  I just made this soup using the American Sauvignon Blanc, and it was just as delicious as with the honey wine.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dairy Free Recipes to Come and Bob's Red Mill Cornbread Mix Review

Today was a great day.  I took Cassie and Nathan to History class this morning to hand in their term papers (we were too late to actually attend the class).  Then we went to Davis College.  All the kids enjoy going on Fridays to the school.  They did their school work in the campus library while we waited to meet Chuck for lunch in the cafeteria.  We really can't eat any of the food the cafeteria serves with the exception of the salad bar.  The prices are great--$2 per person for all you can eat salad bar.  It's a good thing we like salad!  :-)  We all love getting to see Chuck for lunch during the school day, and it breaks up his day, which he really enjoys, too.  Some of the students come to our table and say hi.

Then the kids and I went to the Oakdale Mall.  I had to go to the Girl Scout store to pick up a Brownie Try-It Book for Moriah.  We decided to look around the different stores because the kids all had money burnin' holes in their pockets!  We found some great deals, though.  Elijah found a nice hoodie at Aeropostale that was marked down from over $50 to $12!  The boys also found some jeans at JC Penney's that were marked down to $5!

After we got home, Elijah and I made some awesome Creamy Chicken Chowder, a recipe I will share very soon.  Last night I made an updated and even better version of my Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, another one I will share/update soon, as well.  Of course these recipes are gluten-free, as well, and they taste oh-so-yummy, and even cheezy! 

To go with our Creamy Chicken Chowder tonight, Elijah made up a batch of Bob's Red Mill Cornbread.  Instead of making it in a 9" pan, he made 12 muffins.  We haven't had cornbread in ages!  My absolute favorite cornbread used to be the Jiffy mixes.  Now, of course, that is off limits.  I have made several from-scratch cornbread recipes from various cookbooks, but I have to say that we really enjoyed the BRM Cornbread Mix better than any of the recipes I have tried.  It was so very easy, and the muffins were delicious.  Everyone wanted seconds, but I told them we're gonna take the rest with us tomorrow to a special Family Day at Davis College tomorrow.  The school is providing lunch and dinner for all the families, and I want to take some yummy GF food to add to the salad bar.  I will definitely pick up a few more packages of the cornbread mix for busy days when I want to make a little something extra to go with dinner that is delicious, fast, and easy. 

Lastly, I wanted to say that it is so great that awareness about gluten intolerance is spreading so well.  Our local Wal Mart Superstore has recently added a small Gluten Free section to the grocery side.  It is at the end of the baking aisle.  That's where we got the cornbread mix.  It was $2.88, which is the best price I have seen.  Also, the Christmas Tree Store in Johnson City has some gluten free goodies at decent prices.  (I say decent because I am talking about comparing gluten free foods with gluten free foods.  We all know that gluten free foods are more expensive than gluten-laden foods.)  I have noticed that Big Lots also frequently carries various gluten free cereals at very good prices.  Although I have been really into making things from scratch due to the huge amount of starch in the mixes, as well as the sky-high prices, gluten-free foods are becoming a little more available and are so much easier for me to make when we go through periods of extreme busy-ness with sports, school, etc.  It also makes it easier for friends and family to make gluten free foods that we can eat when we go to visit them for dinner.  I believe that as long as we keep moderation in mind when we make and eat these starchy foods, we can still be healthy.

I will try to share my new recipes soon...just as soon as I can take a couple of good pictures!  Have a blessed weekend.  :-)

Friday, October 29, 2010

I'll Be Back Soon

     I can't believe how much time has gone by since my last post!  Although, in a way, I can.  I have been so extremely busy with my children's schedules, as well as my husband's and my own.  I am rarely home long enough to cook, so I haven't been coming up with any new recipes.  "What have you been eating?" you may ask!  Well, we haven't been eating very healthy, that's for sure!
     Our staple stand by foods over the past few months have largely been rice cakes with peanut butter and bananas, Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas with various fillings, fresh fruit, baby carrots, rice with veggies, beans, and meats.  We have also been eating a lot of Bob's Red Mill's new GF Quick Oats with brown sugar and cinnamon, as well as GF Chex cereals with Silk Vanilla Almond Milk.  I have also been making my own trail mix with varieties of raw nuts, dried fruits, and GF/DF chocolate chips.  On the down side, we have been eating a lot of tortilla chips with salsa, potato chips, GF packaged cookies, GF packaged doughnuts, GF packaged rice bars, etc.--in other words, lots of processed, packaged junk foods that have little nutritional value!  That just goes to show you that we are human and revert back to what is easiest in times of great busy-ness.
     During this time, my husband and I have been trying to carve out special "together moments."  It is so important to make time for your spouse, even if it's just an hour or two per week during the busiest months.  Since he has many physical limitations, we have a harder time figuring out what to do together and usually end up going to a local restaurant for lunch (it's so much cheaper going then).  Because of my dietary restrictions, restaurants are difficult for me, even those that try to offer gluten free meals.  I have found that over the last four months, my health has suffered.  I have had a return of symptoms that had completely gone, leaving me feeling "down in the dumps."  Since we are eating completely gluten free at home, the only explanation I have for the return of symptoms is that there is cross contamination at the restaurants I am eating at, which makes me frustrated because it is about the only thing hubby and I can think of to do together that gives us an opportunity to talk about the things that are important for us to talk about and give each other our undivided attention.  What to do in this situation?  I honestly don't have a solution, yet, but I'm trying.  So far, I am continuing to go out with my husband because that is so important to our relationship right now.  I have purchased some digestive enzymes specifically geared to digesting gluten, so I am just starting to try those out, not for the purpose of eating gluten, but to try to avoid symptoms in situations of cross-contamination.  I'll let you know if they help.
     On top of everything else, I am starting an entertainment business.  Cassie and I paint faces, Chuck makes balloon animals and sculptures and is teaching our kids to do the same, and Elijah is learning to juggle and do magic tricks.  I have been very busy with all of that, but I am starting to have a little more time to think about cooking again, now that the slower months are upon us.
     So, I should be back very soon.  Be watching for new recipes that I will be sharing in the next month.  I will also start doing book, food, restaurant, and equipment reviews as I have been trying new things.  I will try to post something more by next week.  We have a big party to do tonight, and Elijah's birthday tomorrow, which will keep us busy all weekend since we usually have more than one celebration with various grandparents when it is someone's birthday.
     I hope you all have a great weekend, and God bless you!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cashew Coconut Fruit Dip

In the last couple of weeks I have had several parties--a Pampered Chef party, a graduation party for my dear husband, and a Memorial Day picnic.  I have been trying a ton of new recipes, including this one of a Raw Vegan Ranch Dressing Dip that my friends have all loved.  I tweaked it, of course, and am not completely ready to share it, yet, but the recipe is very good just as it is from Sunny Raw Kitchen.  If any of you would like to try it before I blog my own version, please click on the link and give it a try.

Between testing new recipes, cooking for parties, and getting my garden ready to plant, I haven't had any time for blogging.  My garden is still not done (Is it ever?!?), but I figured I would take a little break to blog about a new recipe I have developed.  I made this dip for all of the recent parties I have been at, and it has been a consistent favorite, with many asking for my recipe.  With all of the busyness, I haven't gotten a picture taken, yet, however I will try to get one soon and will post it when I do.

Cashew Coconut Fruit Dip
1/2 c. cashews, soaked and rinsed
1 can Thai Kitchens coconut milk (regular, not light)
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
20 drops NuNaturals Alcohol-Free Vanilla Stevia
1 1/2 Tbs. chia seeds*

Blend the cashews, coconut milk, honey, lemon juice, and stevia until smooth.  Keep the blender running, and add the chia seeds.  Continue to blend until the chia seeds are blended up and the mixture is thickened.  If you don't have vanilla stevia, you could add some vanilla extract and may want to add an extra tablespoon or so of honey.  If you add vanilla and more honey, you may decide that you need to add a touch more chia seeds if your mixture doesn't thicken as much as desired.  I try to keep this dip as thick as I possibly can and still be able to blend up the chia seeds.  If it's too thick to blend up the chia seeds, you can add just a little touch of water, just enough to blend the chia seeds.  I'm sure that a VitaMix blender would be able to make it a little thicker, but my blender is not quite as powerful as that.

This dip will thicken more in the fridge as it chills.  It's a good idea to make it the day before your party, or at least several hours before.  After taking it out of the fridge, it will thin out a little as it gets to room temperature, so if it seems too thick to you (I like it really thick), let it sit out for a little while before serving.  I like to eat this with fruit for breakfast sometimes since I can't have yogurt.  It's healthy and delicious.

*You can also grind your chia seeds in a coffee grinder and then add the chia flour instead of the whole seeds.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Beautiful Luncheon Today

Some lovely friends of mine put on a beautiful ladies' luncheon at the house for all the ladies in our church, today.  It was so wonderful.  They did so much work, and everyone had a great time.  What really impressed me, though, was that these two ladies made all the food themselves.  Not only that, but they made some gluten-free foods with me in mind!  They had never made anything gluten-free before, but they ventured out of their comfort zone just to make me feel comfortable.  I offered to bring something, but they insisted on doing it all themselves.  I so appreciate that!  It was such a lovely day! 

I should have taken pictures, but I forgot to take my camera.  Otherwise, I could show you the gluten-free pasta salad made with Tinkyada pasta, the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Brownies, a lovely chicken salad, gluten-free crackers, and a delicious salad made with broccoli, onions, bacon, raisins, and vinegar.  Everything was so delicious.  Not only was all of this gluten-free, but they took care to keep it dairy-free as well, knowing that I have trouble with both dairy and gluten.  Thank you so much! :-)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Freezer Bites

I have been so busy this week trying to get all my housework caught up from the last several weeks of history play chaos!  I haven't had much time to be creative in the kitchen, though I have had a lot of ideas playing around in my head.  Also, my sister, Sarah, and her children came up to visit from New Jersey this week, so that has been another draw on my time.  We have actually had a lot of fun this week.  We had a birthday dinner at my mom's house to celebrate my birthday which was last weekend on the same day as the history play.

Going to my mom's or my sister's is so much easier for us than for many with dietary restrictions because my mom and sister have similar restrictions, with various other differences.  I don't have to worry about whether or not we can eat the food or whether we are going to have to deal with strange looks or frustrating conversations regarding our diet.  My mom and stepdad made a delicious lentil stew while my sister baked a wonderful birthday cake for me.  It was all very nice.  The cake was an orange creme cake based on this recipe by Gluten-Free Goddess.  I think she may have doubled it in order to make it into a 9x13 cake.  It was delicious.  Since Nathan can't have oranges, and I have been really in the mood for cheesecake which I can no longer have being dairy free, I decided to try a recipe for a dairy-free cheezecake that I found in an awesome book called Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.  It was soooo good.  Everyone loved it, and my nephew who has recently had to go dairy-free as well as gluten-free asked for seconds!  I did modify Ani's recipe a little and have a couple more changes I want to make for the future, so I am not quite ready to share it yet.  I will post it soon.

Elijah had his first baseball game yesterday.  My sister and her kids decided to meet us at the game.  Having everyone around us eating all the food from the snack shop is like torture when you can't eat or drink anything they have to offer.  I decided to bring our own snacks and drinks.  I made my own version of sports drink (It was very hot outside.) and my Dairy Free Cheeze Dip to go with organic corn tortilla chips.  My sister and her family had not had a chance to try my cheeze dip recipe yet, so I took extra for them.  They absolutely loved it and can't wait to make some once they get home from their visit up here.

For dinner last night, Chuck wanted MEAT!  The rest of us just felt like it was too hot to eat anything cooked, but he really felt like he wanted burgers or something.  I threw on a couple of burgers for him.  When they were done, I used my Cheeze Dip as a condiment in place of a slice of cheese.  I heated up a couple of Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas, put some lettuce on them, added the burger with Cheeze Dip, ketchup, and mustard.  Voila!  Dinner was served!  He absolutely raved about the Cheeze Dip.  I think it's not going to be so hard to transition the family to dairy-free.

Sorry I don't have any pictures of any of these great things, but I will try to make some of this stuff again some time and add pictures.  I just really wanted to get an update on my blog since some of you might be wondering what's been up with us.

One thing I do want to add, though, is a great recipe that was inspired by Averie at Love Veggies and Yoga.  She makes these lovely Raw Vegan Chocolate Coconut Snowballs.  I have really been so impressed by her raw vegan recipes.  She makes such lovely, simple desserts that require no baking and minimal dishes and appliances, and with a heat wave upon us I was looking for something that would fit that description.  I decided to try her snowball recipe tonight but with a few small changes.  This is what I came up with.  They are delicious, and they sort of remind me of the Girl Scout Samoas minus the caramel (I'll be working on that).  Chuck absolutely loved them.  He said they remind him of the German Chocolates he used to get.  This was his "the kids are in bed, now, treat!"  Of course, I saved plenty for the kids to try tomorrow.  I'm sure there will be no complaints.

Chocolate Coconut Freezer Bites

3/4 c. agave (I was out of maple syrup and honey, but you could certainly use them instead)
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
15 drops NuNaturals Alcohol-Free Vanilla Stevia
a dash of pure GF vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1/2 c. blanched almond flour
1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 t. chia seeds

Mix the liquid ingredients together.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Spread in a freezer-safe container to cut into "bites" or shape into balls.  Freeze.  If you froze it in a container, you may have to allow it to thaw a couple of minutes before cutting into bars, or take it out of the freezer after 15-20 minutes to cut into pieces before it completely freezes. Enjoy!

Store these in the freezer.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why Chia?

This weekend has been a blur of activity.  Actually, the last week has been a blur, really.  Cassie and Nathan were in a big play Friday and Saturday, so I was quite busy finishing up costumes and carpooling.  Today there was a big banquet for Girl Scouts, where Cassie received recognition for earning her Silver Award.  It has all been very exciting, but I can honestly say that I am more than ready for things to calm down, so I can get back to cooking, blogging, and starting my garden.  I can't go another day, however, without blogging about something, so here is a subject that I have been getting a lot of questions about lately.

Oh, yeah.  On a side note, my birthday was yesterday, and my personal chef wonderful son, Elijah (12 years old) made me breakfast.  How sweet is that?  I just had to include that in my post today since I didn't have a chance to do it yesterday (too busy with the kids' play).  Here is a picture of my wonderful birthday breakfast (Actually, it's my husband's plate since I had already eaten mine before I thought to take a picture!):

How thoughtful was that?  Happy birthday to me! :-)

Now on to the subject at hand:  chia seeds.  I have had quite a few people ask me these questions over and over again, and no wonder.  Chia seeds haven't been in the limelight very long.  Even though ancient peoples used chia seeds for a power food, they have been largely unknown as such by people in our country until very recently.  So here are answers to some of the questions I have been asked.

Are these chia seeds related to the chia pets?  I instantly can hear, "Ch-ch-ch-chia!" ringing in my head.  Yes, they are one and the same.  In fact, you can sprout your chia seeds to make nutritious sprouts for your salads and sandwiches.  You can also use them to refill your chia pet if you want to.

What do chia seeds taste like?  Chia seeds are very mild in flavor.  I can barely distinguish any flavor at all--especially if I mix them with other things (like vanilla almond milk).  They pretty much pick up the flavor of whatever you put them in.

What can you do with chia seeds?  You can use chia seeds as a thickener.  You can grind them into flour using a coffee grinder, and use the flour in your baking (though you may need to increase the liquid in your recipe).  You can make puddings and thicken your smoothies with chia seeds.  You can make refreshing beverages with chia seeds.  You can make chia gel and add it to your salad dressings, condiments, and other things in order to stretch them farther or to add nutrition.   Chia seeds soak up and retain a lot of liquid, so when you eat them dry, you should make sure you drink a lot to prevent the seeds from taking moisture from your body.  When you take them with a lot of water or juice, they are a great way to hydrate yourself.  One note to add is that when you heat up chia seeds, the live enzymes get killed, as with all living digestive enzymes in foods, so eating them raw will give you the most benefits.  A lot of people add chia seeds to their yogurt or their oatmeal.  If you want to add them to your oatmeal, you could make your oatmeal as usual and then add some cool water with your chia seeds or make chia gel ahead of time and add it.

What are chia seeds similar to?  Chia seeds are very much like flax seeds when it comes to their nutritional value, except they are very stable (don't go rancid).  Chia seeds contain more calcium and provide more energy than flax.  They provide more dietary fiber and less fat than flax.  They also provide a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs.  They also contain a lot of antioxidants, whereas the flax seeds don't have any.  Chia seeds help regulate blood sugar levels, enabling diabetics to keep their sugar levels from spiking as much.  They slow digestion of carbohydrates and can aid in weight loss by making you feel full longer.

Why are chia seeds so healthy?  This question is partially answered by my answer to the previous question.  On top of that information, I will add that chia seeds are a good source of protein and contain calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin A, and many of the B vitamins.  Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.

Do you have any recipes for using chia seeds?  I am currently coming up with recipes.  Right now, I have 3 recipes for chia seed pudding on my blog.  I have a recipe for meat loaf that I am currently perfecting (almost done) that uses chia seeds.  I am also working on a Chocolate Rum Raisin Pudding using chia seeds that I blend in the blender until smooth.  I plan on coming up with many more recipes over the coming months that I will be sharing.  In the meantime, you can find lots of recipes online.  Just do a google search.  There is also a good book, The Magic of Chia, that you can find on for a decent price.  I plan on ordering that book soon.  I am interested in looking at the many recipes included in it.

How much does chia cost?  Is it expensive?  There seems to be a wide variety of prices on chia seeds.  I was recently disappointed to find that our local health food store is trying to sell chia seeds for over $30.00 per pound!  I found chia seeds on for $4.59 per pound, with free shipping!  I have found the seeds for many prices in between, but Amazon is the cheapest.  Considering that a small amount goes a long way, I feel that it is a decent price to pay.  I believe the price will probably lower as chia seeds become more and more popular.  Incidentally, if you purchase the seeds through amazon for that price, you have to buy a 5 pound bag of them.  You can purchase a smaller amount, though the price will be slightly more per pound.  Just do a search on amazon for chia seeds.  Even with the slightly higher per pound price, it may still be cheaper than at your local store.

You can find more information and a few recipes on chia seeds here:

The Chia Cheat Sheet and 10 Recipes

The Secret of Chia:  An Interview with James Scheer
Herbs are Special:  Chia
The Raw Food World:  Chia

Disclaimer:  I have included links in this post that will take you to several places where chia seeds are being sold.  I am including them only because there is valuable information on those sites that you may be interested in.  I am in no way advertising for these particular companies, and I am not making any money from them.  The information you will find at these places can also be found in The Magic of Chia book as well as other websites and/or books, not just sites that are trying to sell a product.
Do a google search for chia seeds and you will find a lot of information and recipes.

That's it for now.  I will continue to update this page as I find new interesting information.  Does anyone have any questions or comments?  Please ask your questions or leave comments in the comments section under this post, and I will respond as soon as I can.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cinnamon-Raisin Chia Pudding

This morning's breakfast was a variation of the Chia Pudding recipes I've done so far.  This time, I used Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, vanilla stevia, cinnamon, and raisins, and I heated it in the microwave for a minute because I was freezing and just wanted a comforting, warm breakfast.  Those of you who really know me know that I am not a big fan of cooking in the microwave, but once in a while I succumb to my desire for something warm, fast, and easy.  This morning was one of those times.  Anyway, I discovered that heating the pudding up gets rid of most of the slight "crunch" that the chia seeds seem to have, even after they sit and soak all night in the fridge (not that I dislike the texture of the other puddings, because I do love them).  I really loved the texture of this pudding.  It kind of reminds me of tapioca pudding.  The flavor of this pudding is reminiscent of traditional rice pudding.  I'm sure you could heat this up on your stove instead of the microwave, which is what I will probably do in the future when I make it (dislike the microwave).

Cinnamon-Raisin Chia Pudding
2 Tbs. chia seeds
1/2 c. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk*
13 drops NuNaturals Alcohol-Free Vanilla Stevia
handful of raisins
dashes of cinnamon, to taste

Whisk together the chia seeds, milk, cinnamon, and stevia.  Stir in the raisins.  Heat in a microwavable, glass bowl for 1 minute, then allow to sit for maybe 10  minutes (or heat up on the stove just until hot, then allow to sit).  The pudding will finish thickening and will cool to an "eatable" temperature.  Taste and add more cinnamon or stevia, if desired.

Personally, I don't mind these chia puddings raw and cold.  The slight "crunch" of the seeds just adds texture to me, but I know some won't like that (like my daughter, Cassie), and I think it's better to eat chia seeds warm than not at all even though I know that cooking them probably decreases the nutrients a little bit.

*Sometimes I like to add an extra tablespoon or two of almond milk.  It provides a "softer set" pudding than this recipe normally makes.  To make this raw, you can substitute any homemade nut milk you would like.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Cheeze" Sauce and Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (DF)

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of Mesa Sunrise flakes with vanilla almond milk, a dash or two of cinnamon, raisins, and some cut-up dried apple pieces.  It was so good.  The combination of cinnamon with the vanilla almond milk reminded me of those sugar-filled cinnamon cereals you buy in the store.  The kids also ate some fresh fruit.

This morning was a nice, relaxed morning for me.  I spent some time on the computer and just making sure the kids were on track with school.  Then I came up with some ideas for tonight's dish-to-pass dinner at Boy Scouts.  I always have a hard time deciding what to make for these things since I know that many people don't want to eat the foods that we eat, and I feel like I want to make something that everyone will like.  To make things even harder, we had to bring a main dish as well as a side dish, and I had to take Moriah to Girl Scouts for a couple of hours, leaving little time to be creative and cook something awesome afterward.

I decided that the best thing to do would be to make a casserole of some kind, and since I already had some cooked chicken breasts and some broccoli, I figured it was time for me to create a nice "cheeze" sauce that I could use to bring it all together with some rice into a chicken/broccoli casserole.  This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time and have been putting off because I just didn't feel like I was at a point of knowing my dairy-free ingredients enough to create something delicious with them that would be a suitable substitute for cream soups and/or sauces.  However, I do feel confident now, and fully ready to embark on such a journey.  Let me tell you, my family is soooo glad I did!  This has got to be the best dairy-free cheezy saucy stuff I have ever had.  You can adjust the thickness and use it as a light sauce or a thicker sauce.  You can use it as a substitute for those canned cream soups in recipes.  You can flavor it with different herbs, garlic, etc.  You can use it to make cream of whatever soup.  This is going to be so versatile.  Tonight I used it to make Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, which I served with Honey Gingered Carrots.  Even Nathan loved it!  (My only thought of improvement with the casserole was to make sure I add enough of the sauce because the rice absorbs the liquid as it bakes, and I like my casseroles saucy.  I tried to make this adjustment in the recipe listed below, but you will have to gauge it for yourself, whether or not it's saucy enough for you.  Perhaps put a little less rice in it to begin with and then add more rice until it is the consistency you like.  It's very versatile for you to make changes as you see fit.)* 

Dessert was Gluten-Free Betty Crocker Brownies, which I made after we got home from the dinner.  Hey, I'm not perfect.  Sometimes I use mixes, like when it's 7:30 at night, and everyone around us at the dinner was eating chocolate cake and brownies, and I know I don't have time to bake brownies from scratch before the kids have to be in bed!

"Cheeze" Sauce 
1 (32 oz.) carton unsweetened MimicCreme*
5-7 Tbs. sweet rice flour (depending on how thick you want your sauce)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
5 Tbs. nutritional yeast
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. tahini
2 t. salt
1 t. curry
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 c. Earth Balance

Blend 1 cup of the MimicCreme with the garlic, onion, yeast, vinegar, tahini, salt, curry, and pepper until smooth.  Pour the rest of the MimicCreme in a medium saucepan.  Whisk the blender contents into the rest of the MimicCreme and continue to whisk over medium heat for about 10 minutes to thicken and get rid of the raw flour taste.  Stir or whisk in the Earth Balance until melted and well mixed.  Taste your sauce.  Does it need anything else?  What are you planning on putting it in?

*MimicCreme can be found at our local Down to Earth health food store.  Our Wegmans carries the sweetened version, but not the unsweetened.  The sweetened version can be used in place of cream in making homemade ice cream!  For those of you who don't live in my area, check your local health food stores and/or Wegmans.  Perhaps your Wegmans has the unsweetened MimicCreme.  Also, you can order it online or through your local food co-op.  I know it's cheaper through my food co-op than at the store.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (DF)
4 chicken breast halves, cut in small, bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 lbs. broccoli florets
1 batch "Cheeze" Sauce

dashes of celery salt
1/4 - 1/2 c. blanched almond flour
3 c. uncooked brown rice, cooked in rice cooker with 1 bouillon cube and 5 1/2 c. water

Mix the chicken pieces, florets, rice*, and cheeze sauce in a big pan, then spread it in a cake pan or casserole dish.  Lightly dash some celery salt across the top, being careful not to use too much since it is strong.  Sprinkle blanched almond flour on top.  Cover and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 5 more minutes.  Try putting together the ingredients and freeze it.  Thaw and bake it when you need it.

*Update 4/27/10--I will be making this casserole by keeping the rice separate from now on.  I will mix the sauce, chicken, and broccoli, baking them with the bread crumbs on top.  Then I will put rice on each individual plate, topping it off with the chicken and broccoli casserole.  This will prevent the rice from soaking up all of the sauce.
Note:  There are variables in this recipe, like the size of the chicken breast halves, if you are using frozen florets, if you use white rice instead of brown, etc.  You will have to gauge whether or not you have enough sauce for all the rice, broccoli, and chicken you intend to use.  You may want to set aside a couple of cups of the mixture before you add the sauce, and then just add as much of the reserved mix as you want.  You want the casserole to have enough sauce because as it bakes the rice will absorb some of it.  If you want to make a little more sauce, you could just add a little unsweetened rice milk and a little more sweet rice flour, but you might need to add a little more of the seasonings, as well.
                                           Mmmm.  Brownies!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pizza Tonight!!

Today was a pretty low-key day spent cleaning and organizing my kitchen.  Cassie and Nathan had history play practice while Elijah and Moriah spent their day playing and watching movies, enjoying their spring vacation.  We have been so busy lately that we decided that tonight would be family night.  Tonight was also pizza night.  We rented a movie to watch with the kids, and then we watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (anybody else out there like this new show?).

We all decided a couple of weeks ago that it would be nice to have specific dinners on specific days of the week.  I think things are so hectic in our lives that it's nice to have something "set" to count on, so the kids decided they want Friday nights to be "Pizza Night" and Monday nights to be "Fish Night."  It sounds like something fun to try, so we're doing it for now.

Using Sarah's GF Whole-Grain All-Purpose Flour Mix and slightly altering a recipe from King Arthur Flour for gluten free pizza crust, we have a winner here, folks.  My family loves this recipe, enough to eat it every Friday night!  First, check out these cool pictures.  Moriah and Elijah got so excited, asking if I would please post pictures of their personal pizzas tonight.  For your viewing pleasure, we have:
Moriah's personal pizza, featuring black olive "glasses" and "nose," zucchini "eyes," and a pepperoni "mouth."  She said, "Look, Mommy, I made you!"
 Then we have Elijah's creative masterpiece.  Pepperoncini peppers for "eyes, nose, and mouth" and sun-dried tomatoes for "ears and a chin!"  He also used black olives, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.
Finally, there's mine.  I used sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, zucchini slices, and pepperoncini peppers.  I topped it all off with dabs of my Dairy-Free Cheeze Dip I didn't use the chopped chiles, to make it less "nacho" flavored for the pizza).  Mmm.
The other kids are too old to think it's "cool" to play with your food and post pictures of it on Mom's blog!

Gluten-Free, Whole-Grain Pizza Crust  (serves 4-6, makes 1 pizza 10" to 14")

1 1/2 c. Sarah's GF Whole-Grain All-Purpose Flour Mix
2 Tbs. blanched almond flour
1 Tbs. sugar or honey
1 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 t. xanthan gum
1 1/2 t. instant yeast
1 c. warm water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. dried basil

First, thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients except the yeast in your mixer bowl.  If you are using honey instead of sugar, add it to the liquid ingredients in the next step.  Then, mix your liquid ingredients along with the yeast and 1/2 c. of the dry ingredient mixture in a small bowl.  You don't need to mix this hard, just enough to get the yeast spread around in the liquid.  Let your liquid mixture sit until it is all foamy (up to 30 minutes). 

Using your stand or electric mixer, beat the liquid mixture into the dry, adding it in small amounts and mixing until it's all mixed in.  Beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes.  The texture of your dough will not be like traditional pizza dough.  It's not going to be springy.  It will be kind of sticky-gooey.  Leaving the dough in the mixer bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Next, dip a plastic spatula/scraper in a bowl of water, and use it to scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a parchment lined cookie sheet or pizza pan.  You can try oiling your cookie sheet, but it has been my experience that oiling just doesn't keep the dough from sticking enough for us.  In fact, I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper almost every time I bake because of the tendency for gluten-free flours to stick. Note:  My kids like it when I divide the dough into personal pizzas, with their own little cookie sheets.

Continue to dip your spatula in the water as needed to keep the dough from sticking to it as you spread the dough to the desired shape and thickness.  We prefer thinner crust, so we spread it to about 1/4" thickness.  Allow your crust to sit and rest another 15 minutes, uncovered this time.  While your crust sits, preheat your oven to 425 F.

Bake your crust to set it.  This can take up to 10 minutes, but it all depends on how thick your crust is and how big your pizza(s) is/are.  For instance, if you are doing personal pizzas, it might not take as long since they are much smaller than one big pizza.  Our crust is usually pretty thin, so it takes around 8 minutes, but it takes a little less time if we are doing personal pizzas.  If you make a really thick crust, it might take longer than 10 minutes.  You'll have to look at it and kind of see what you think.  Is it firm enough to put your toppings on without making it gooey?  You don't want it completely done, yet, either.

Take your crust out of the oven and put your toppings on.  Bake it some more until the dough is done and the toppings are cooked to your liking.  Again, it depends on the thickness of your crust, the size of your pizza(s), and the toppings you have put on.  This can take 8-15 minutes.

Take your pizza out of the oven, cut it with a pizza cutter, and serve.  Enjoy!

We always double this recipe since I have 3 teenagers at home.  We never have leftovers!

What about you?  Do you have any weekly or monthly family meal traditions, some set schedule that helps your life be less hectic?  Leave a comment, if you do.  Tell me about it.

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake (DF)

Since Nathan is so underweight, we are trying to help him gain weight and grow by adding protein to his diet.  It does seem to be helping, though I have noticed that he is making himself eat more food in general on his own, since he has been concerned about being so much smaller than his friends.  He has gained 4 lbs. in the last month.

In my efforts to increase protein in Nate's diet, I have been making protein shakes for him.  Being a woman, I am always thinking chocolate, but he informed me the other day that he is getting too much chocolate and wants another flavor.  I thought these shakes would taste nasty, but I was pleasantly surprised that they are quite good.  In fact, I made enough shake for all of us to have some with our lunch today.  This version is what I made for me and the other kids.  Nathan's was made with 1/2 a can of Thai Kitchens Coconut Milk plus some water instead of the cashews and water. (I have also been increasing the fats in his diet.)  Nathan is my pickiest eater, and he does like these protein shakes.

Strawberry Banana Protein Shake
2 c. cold water
1/2 c. raw cashews
4 Tbs. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50 protein powder
7 pitted dates
2 frozen bananas
6-8 large frozen strawberries
vanilla stevia to taste (I used 14 drops.)

Blend the water, cashews, protein powder, and dates until smooth.  This may take a minute or so depending on your blender.  Add the bananas, strawberries, and stevia, blending just until smooth and thick.  If you would like yours thicker, you can add more fruit.  If it's too thick, add a touch more water just to get it going.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vanilla Chia Pudding (DF)

Thursdays are usually my busiest days, and today was no exception.  I got up early and had to run to help at our local food co-op this morning.  I didn't have much time for breakfast, just enough time to through together this Vanilla Chia Pudding.  I loved the Snickerdoodle Chia Pudding so much I decided to try vanilla, and it is so easy to make.  I just made it in one of those Pyrex dishes with a lid and took it with me to eat when I felt hungry.  Averie also makes several great chia seed puddings and recipes that spurred my interest in trying it.  My recipe is similar to hers but with different sweetener since I don't like agave.

Vanilla Chia Pudding 

2 Tbs. chia seeds
1/2 c. sweetened vanilla almond milk*
NuNaturals Alcohol Free Vanilla Stevia to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 1/2 hour.  You can put in fridge or eat now.  Enjoy!  Note:  The longer you let it sit, the thicker it will get.  I usually make this pudding at night and refrigerate it until breakfast the next morning.  I love eating chia pudding for breakfast!

*This makes a pretty thick pudding.  I usually add an extra tablespoon or so of the almond milk to make it a little "softer set."  Also, you can use unsweetened vanilla almond milk and use the vanilla stevia or some regular stevia and a little vanilla to sweeten and flavor it.  To make this raw, you can use any homemade nut milk you would like. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dairy Free Nacho Cheeze Dip

Here's an extra recipe for today.  I've been trying to perfect a dairy-free cheeze substitute recipe, and I have finally perfected one.  My family is so excited about this dip.  Everyone loves it, and it really does taste cheezy!  I made some today and added a can of chopped chiles for nacho cheese dip to go with tortillas.  Averie has some nice dairy-free cheeze recipes on her blog that helped inspire this recipe, along with other recipes I have come across online that gave me the courage to try this.  

12/29/10--I just edited this recipe because over time I have made some slight changes.  I doubled the amounts I originally posted because I always have to double it anyway.  It keeps in the fridge for probably 4 days or so, though it never lasts that long for us since it gets eaten fast!  I also have started using a small can of sliced jalapenos as well as the can of chopped chilis, and I added 1/4 t. of McCormick Spicy Chili Powder.  If the jalapenos add too much heat for you, just use 2 cans of chopped chilis instead.  To make this recipe raw, you can use a fresh, de-seeded jalapeno pepper instead of canned chilis and jalapenos.
                                           Check out the cheezy goodness!

DF Cheeze Dip
2 c. raw cashews
1- 1 1/2 c. cold water
3 Tbs. lemon juice
6 Tbs. Nutritional Yeast
2 Tbs. tahini
1 1/2 t. paprika
1 Tbs. salt 
1 1/2 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. spicy chili powder
1 small can chopped chiles
1 small can sliced jalapenos

Soak the cashews in clean cold water for an hour or two.  Then drain and rinse them.  Blend all the ingredients in your blender.  I don't have a Vita-Mix, so it takes a little more water for me to get the blender to work it.  I just stand over the blender and add a touch of water, maybe a tablespoon at a time until I see the dip start churning in the pitcher.  If you have a Vita-Mix, you won't have to use as much water.  Just use as little or as much as your tastes desire.  I have made this dip without soaking the cashews first, using a little more water in the recipe.  It still tastes good, though the texture is not as creamy.  Don't use the soaking water in your recipe.   

This makes about 3 c. dip.

Sarah's GF Whole-Grain Sandwich Rounds

This week starts the big cram for the kids' homeschool co-op history play.  Cassie and Nathan are participating in the grand event this year, so I have been busy with a lot of sewing (history costumes and also 12 dance skirts for Moriah's dance team) over the last couple of months.  I only have 2 costumes left to make, and then I have all the little stuff to do (button holes, buttons, trims, etc.).  I am so glad it's almost done.  The play is in 3 weeks, so the kids will be having practices a lot more than usual.  This week they'll practice 2 days, 4 hrs. each practice.  Next week they'll practice 3 days, 4 hrs. each practice, and the following week they'll practice every day, 5 hrs. each day, culminating with the play Friday night and Saturday afternoon.  Then they'll have a showing the following Saturday, as well.

Also, with Elijah's baseball practices starting up this week, things are going to be very hectic.  That being said, I will have little time to do a lot of cooking.  To start things off well, I decided to make some sandwich rounds.  I have a dozen hard boiled eggs just waiting to be turned into egg salad, and I have canned tuna for those who prefer that.  This sandwich round recipe comes from my sister, Sarah.  These are whole-grain, so they are heavier than white bread.  They kind of remind me of some of the whole-grain breads I used to eat that I really loved.  They weren't light and airy.  They were substantial and filling, as well as delicious.  I shaped these buns into flat (maybe 1/2" thick), round discs.  They turn out similar to the sandwich rounds that you see in the stores now.  These make delicious and filling sandwiches, and my sister says she likes to toast them like English muffins, as well.  I haven't tried them that way, yet.  I can't stop eating them as sandwiches!  I make 22 sandwich rounds with this recipe because I make them fairly small (they are filling), but you can make them a little bigger if you like.  I will be making more either tomorrow or Friday, so I can freeze a bunch.  Sarah freezes them whole and thaws them in her wide-slot toaster before slicing them.  I will probably slice them before freezing since I don't have a toaster and don't like to use the microwave too much. These sandwich rounds are not all crumbly like some other gluten-free breads I have tried.

                                          (Please excuse the fine china!--Look at the texture!)

Sarah's GF Whole-Grain Sandwich Rounds
6 1/3 c. Sarah's GF Whole-Grain All-Purpose Flour Mix
6 Tbs. evaporated cane juice
5 t. xanthan gum 
2 Tbs. instant yeast
3 t. salt
1/3 c. + 3 Tbs. egg whites (OR 2 eggs + 2 egg whites)
2 1/4 c. club soda or water, warmed (or seltzer water)
2 t. raw apple cider vinegar, warmed with the club soda
1/2 c. light-tasting olive oil (I used regular pure olive oil)

Turn your oven on warm and turn it off just before putting the rounds in to rise.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In your mixer bowl lightly beat the eggs.  Add the warmed club soda mixture, vinegar, and oil, beating until mixed.  Slowly pour in the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until it forms a smooth dough, then beat on high for 2 minutes.  Dip a spatula in water and scrape 1/2 of the dough onto a counter that has been dusted with brown rice flour.  The dough will be sticky, so you should flip it over a couple of times on the floured counter, lightly covering the surface of your dough with rice flour.  Pull off a piece of dough maybe a little larger than a golf ball and a little smaller than a tennis ball (bigger if you want large sandwich rounds).  Pat it into a round, flat disc about 1/2" thick, or thicker if you want your rounds to be thicker.

                                          (Before rising)

Place the disc on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (or greased cookie sheet) and put in your warmed oven to rise for 45 minutes.  Pull out the rounds and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
                                             (After rising)

While your oven is preheating, brush the tops of your rounds with olive oil, or spray with olive oil.  Bake for around 20 minutes, until internal temperature is 205 degrees.  My sister checks hers with a meat thermometer.  I don't bother checking.  Mine still turn out fine.  Cool on wire racks.  

Dinner tonight was egg salad sandwiches (a real treat since I rarely bake bread), DF Nacho Cheeze Dip with organic yellow tortilla chips, and fresh fruit.  Yum!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lori's Snickerdoodle Chia Pudding (Dairy-free)

Yesterday was a good day for me.  I started out working on a post for another blog I write along with my husband, Chuck.  (The post is not up, yet, because Chuck is adding to it.)  Then, I took Moriah to see Alice in Wonderland.  She has been waiting to see it for such a long time.  She really enjoyed her time with Mommy, and the movie was great, too.  I rested for awhile after getting back home (Eating movie theater popcorn and drinking soda does not agree with me.) then I heated up some leftover Taco Soup, added some cooked long grain brown rice and tortilla chips, and voila!  Dinner was served.  Then Elijah and I headed out to go shopping for baseball stuff.  He needed cleats, a new water bottle, and some other things.  (I am thinking of stopping at Wegman's today to pick up some coconut water, the best sports drink around, so he will have something good to drink after practice tonight.)

When I got home with Elijah last night, I decided to try making some pudding.  I have been working on pudding recipes for a few days, trying to come up with the absolutely perfect dairy-free chocolate pudding recipe ever.  I am still working on it, but I have had enough chocolate pudding for now and thought something else might be refreshing.  I have been following a recipe blog the last few months, and I noticed that the blog's owner, Averie, does a lot of dairy-free pudding recipes of her own that look quite interesting.  I had heard chia seeds were very good for you and purchased some back in January.  One of my goals for this year was to try cooking with them.  They have been sitting in my cabinet for months, waiting to be tried.  (I said they look interesting, not exactly appetizing.)

However, I kept reading peoples' reviews of Averie's puddings and decided I just had to try my own.  Thus, my Snickerdoodle Chia Pudding recipe was born.  It's very similar to Averie's basic recipe, but I used honey and cinnamon.  My family loves cinnamon, so this was really refreshing to us.  I don't normally share recipes so soon after trying them, however my picky boys both tried my pudding and absolutely loved it, asking for some more in the morning.  I decided to make everyone their own bowl of it for this morning.  Pudding for breakfast?  Maybe...if it's chia pudding!

Lori's Snickerdoodle Chia Pudding
2 Tbs. chia seeds
1/2 c. sweetened vanilla almond milk*
1 Tbs. honey, to taste
vanilla flavored stevia, to taste
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 t. cinnamon, to taste (1/2 t. was too much for kiddos' tastes.  They prefer closer to 1/4 t, though 
                  I liked 1/2 t.)

Mix all of the ingredients together using a whisk to incorporate everything completely.  Let it sit for 1/2 hour on your counter, then stir it again, cover, and put it in your fridge to finish thickening up and get cold.

*Sometimes I add an extra tablespoon or two of almond milk.  It provides a "softer set" pudding than this recipe normally makes.  You can use unsweetened almond milk and then just use vanilla stevia to sweeten, if you desire.  Also, to make this raw you can substitute any homemade nut milk you would like.

You can eat the pudding after 1/2 hour on your counter, but it will thicken even more if you give it some more time in your fridge.  I ate my first batch about 1 1/2 hours after mixing it up.  This recipe is for 1 person.  I bought some of those little Pyrex bowls with the plastic lids just for the purpose of making individual pudding cups for everyone, since making pudding seems to be my thing right now.  They're perfect.

I didn't have any stevia for this recipe (I accidentally left it at my sister's house last month.), so I made it with  honey.  It was great.  I will be picking up some more vanilla-flavored stevia today, so when I make this pudding in the future, I will use 1 Tbs. honey, 1/4 - 1/2 t. cinnamon, and some vanilla stevia to sweeten it even a little bit more.  Then it will be perfect for us.  If you don't have stevia, you can just use honey and maybe add a little more than what the recipe calls for, according to your taste.

Click here and here for some more information on chia seeds and some extra recipes.

So what about you?  Do you have a favorite flavor for pudding?  A favorite dairy-free pudding recipe to share?