Saturday, December 31, 2011

Freckled Dairy Free Vanilla Pudding

Yesterday I received a package in the mail containing a bag of a substance with a higher value than my retirement account. It is now hidden away safely in my refrigerator.
Vanilla beans! Denise sent them to me! (Thank you, thank you, thank you, Denise!) I couldn't wait to use one so I found a recipe for vanilla pudding and adapted it to be dairy free. Basically I substituted almond milk for the whole milk. Big whoop. I have grown to prefer almond milk to cow's milk anyway.
It's a pretty basic cooked vanilla pudding but the difference is in using a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. A vanilla bean will give great vanilla flavor and we'll have those adorable little vanilla freckles in the pudding!

Seeding a vanilla bean is easy. Just cut it length-wise and use a little scoop or the tip of a knife to scrape out the centers. I used my smidgen measuring spoon. It was part of my Christmas present from my God-child Hanna. (Thank you, Hanna!) She also gave me the whisk pictured below. I needed it. Remember what my old whisk looked like?!

After I removed the seeds, I let the beans hang out in the 2 cups of almond milk as I heated it to boiling.

In the meantime, I whisked together the sugar, corn starch, salt and vanilla seeds and slowly added the other 2/3 of unheated almond milk and egg. I added the boiling almond milk (vanilla pods removed) to this mixture and then simmered it for several minutes until it was thick.

And we have freckles, folks...

Now some moms might put the pudding in little individual cups and place them in the refrigerator for a creamy dessert or calcium loaded bedtime treat. I put it all in one big bowl. I prefer my pudding I don't have to wait. Nobody else is around. I think we all know where this is going... is delicious!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Variety of odd plates

I mentioned to one of my adult daughters that I wanted a variety of odd plates so I could take pictures for my blog using something other than our regular cranberry colored dishes. She visited several thrift stores and found some very interesting plates for me...
Here's a fancy GFCF dessert on some of my new fancy plate ware. ☺

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Worthy

Because this is our first GFCF Christmas, there is a lot of baking, eating and re-baking going on. We must test every new recipe so we know it is Christmas worthy.

This recipe for Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Loaf is. No doubt about it. We've already eaten a loaf and I'm baking two more now.
GFCF Cranberry Orange Loaf

1 1/2 cups featherlight flour mix (*the recipe for this can be found by clicking the link. I just used my favorite all purpose GF flour mix from the Cooking For Isaiah cookbook)
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Earth Balance dairy free butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour (with sweet rice flour) a 9×5 loaf pan.
2.In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in orange zest, cranberries and pecans. Set aside.
3.In a large bowl, cream together Earth Balance, sugar and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice. Beat in flour mixture until just moistened. Pour into prepared pan.
4.Bake for 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

*The linked recipe includes a glaze. I didn't make it. The bread is delicious without it.
(I also made pumpkin bread. That was good, too!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

GFCF Breakfasts

Breakfast on a GFCF diet is relatively easy. Eggs, homemade hashbrowns, natural nitrate / nitrite free bacon and sausages, and several cereals are gluten and casein free. (Making our GFCF bread and other baking requires a lot of eggs. We go through more eggs now than ever before. )
We use Flaxmilk on cold cereals but for hot cereals I prefer almond milk. My friend Dorothy found several boxes of Holly's Gluten Free Porridge on a major clearance sale and gave us some. It is a great way to start a day! I also love this...
...a hot bowl of rice with almond milk and cinnamon. We have rice about once a week and I always make extra so I can have this treat for breakfast. Java likes it too.

And when we can splurge, we get a package of these gluten free english muffins from our local food co-op (buttered with Earth Balance spread). These are great for a quick breakfast or with GFCF homemade tomato soup as shown above.

Other mornings we have fruit smoothies with rice protein powder and almond or coconut milk. I prefer a hot breakfast in the morning but some days they need a portable breakfast for the car ride to school.

Start your day well. ♥

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Have a healthy holiday!

I sent a text to my friend Claudia last night...

"Making vegan, refined sugar free Christmas cookies with hemp seeds. Santa is going to love a plate of these with a big glass of flaxmilk."

She replied, "That sounds so gross!"

I'm going to have to bring some of these cookies to Claudia's house and let her try them before telling her what they are. She'd never guess that these delicious little cookies are actually good for you!

I was looking for something comparable to the peanut butter chocolate star cookies that I made every year before eliminating gluten and casein from our lives. I decided to try the second, healthier version, recipe on this blog with a few modifications.
I didn't want to have to make chocolate discs (call me lazy) so I used GFCF chocolate chips. I also used hulled hemp seeds in the cookie instead of flax seeds. *Read about the health benefits of hemp here, including an answer to the question, "Will hemp make you high?"

They are delicious! Bean asked if he could have these in his lunchbox this week! (They have 3 days of school left before Christmas vacation.) I doubled the recipe but I think I'll have to make another batch!

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup palm sugar
3 T. hulled hemp seeds mixed with 1 T. hot water
1 t. vanilla
1/4 cup sifted coconut flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 t. xanthan gum
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup palm sugar
GFCF chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, blend the coconut oil, peanut butter, palm sugar, hemp seeds, egg, and vanilla. In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients, whisking well. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Shape the dough into 1.5 inch balls. Roll the balls in palm sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes. Do not over-bake! Remove from the oven and immediately top each one with GFCF chocolate chips, pressing down gently.

Have a healthy holiday!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I finally started Christmas baking. Usually by this time in December I have dozens of cookies in the freezer, but this year I had to scrap my regular cookie recipes and find new gluten and casein free ones. I was a bit nervous about messing with Christmas tradition.

Silly me. I made two kinds of cookies last night and the kids LOVED both of them! This one is my favorite so far. I'd put it up against any cookie on any Christmas cookie plate anywhere.

I used this recipe but modified it slightly. Instead of using a GFCF flour blend to roll the chilled dough in, I used powdered sugar. I wanted to make them as single, not sandwiched cookies, and the powdered sugar gave them just enough sweetness to ditch the recommended frosting.
It also made them look like the ground in Minnesota this Christmas where we have just a smidgen of snow this year. ♪ I'm dreaming of a brown Christmas. ♫

I love the slight peppermint flavor of this chocolate cookie. Here is the recipe with the modifications I made. Enjoy!

1/2 cup Earth Balance GFCF buttery sticks, softened
1/3 cup cane sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 eggs
1 ½ cups All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Blend butter and sugars, add eggs and extracts. Add blended dry ingredients and mix. Wrap in waxed paper and chill in freezer for one hour or in refrigerator overnight.

Dust chilled dough in powdered sugar and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut in circles and bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quick fix lunch

I had a crockpot full of ham and beans that I had planned to serve for lunch after church yesterday but the beans weren't quite done. I decided to let them cook for the rest of the day and serve them for supper. So lunch had to be a quick fix.

I whipped up some pancakes and served them with fresh, homemade applesauce. (In the linked recipe for pancakes, I substituted the dry milk powder with a product called DariFree that is potato based.)

We use Earth Balance vegan "butter" as our casein free butter alternative and we like it, so recently I picked up another Earth Balance product. Coconut Spread.

It was delicious on pancakes! It is creamy white and had a mild coconut flavor. A drizzle of pure maple syrup topped off a sweet pancake pina colada!

*Earth Balance has not paid me in any way to review their products. I have no relationship with them other than being a regular, thankful customer since going gluten and casein free.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cinnamon Applesauce

Someone gave me about 15 pounds of apples a few days ago and they were at the stage where they needed to be eaten soon. I decided to make a big pot of cinnamon applesauce.
These apples were sweet so they didn't need much added sweetening. I used just under one cup of brown sugar for the 15 pounds of cut up apples. I added a few tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 cinnamon sticks and 4 cups of water and let them cook on the stove top for about 45 minutes.

Java used the potato masher to take care of some of the larger chunks and then we each scooped up a dish of hot apple goodness. Easy, delicious...and my house smells all cinnamon-y wonderful!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Burger bread slabs

Tonight I made hamburgers for supper so this afternoon I made bread slabs to use as buns. I brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt and herbs before baking.
The puff up and brown nicely when baked on a hot stone in a 450 degree oven.

Fast food has nothing on this gluten free burger.

Budget busting?

Our budget is pretty tight right now after recently having to replace our home's furnace and most of the parts that kept our family's van on the road. We are saving money by not eating out and by making meals from scratch, but I am spending more on many of the foods we buy.

I am buying better quality meats and poultry now. No hormones or antibiotics or preservatives. Eggs are from cage free, vegetarian fed hens and we bought a half beef from a local farmer.

I can't afford to buy all of our produce organic, but I try to buy the "dirty dozen" from organic growers. I remind myself, "We'll pay now or pay later."

A recent meal is pictured above. Polska Kielbasa (I bought several packages to freeze after a recent trip to Whole Foods), onions, organic potatoes and carrots and organic beef broth. I threw it all in the crock pot early in the day and we all enjoyed a hot, tasty meal that night.

I am thankful that we made these changes to our diet last year and it hasn't been nearly as budget busting as I thought it would be.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Apple Crisp (Cranberries, too!)

We were invited to supper with friends tonight and I was asked to bring dessert. I decided to make two apple crisps, one with cranberries and one without.
I peeled 15 apples, some Granny Smiths and some Firesides, and mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a teaspoon of pure vanillla extract. I divided the apples between two baking dishes and sprinkled fresh cranberries on one.

Using a pastry blender, I combined 2 cups of rolled oats (be sure they are gluten free), 2 cups of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of Penzey's Apple Pie Spice (or cinnamon), with 1 cup of Earth Balance "butter". This crumbly mixture was sprinkled over the apples. (*Cut this recipe in half if you are only making one pan of apple crisp!)

Bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Simply delicious.

Make your own pizza sauce

We didn't host Thanksgiving so there's no leftover turkey for several meals following the big day. Yesterday we were busy cleaning the house and putting up Christmas lights so we turned to a favorite standy-by meal. Pizza.

I make several gluten free pizza crusts at a time and freeze them for days like this. I use the recipe in our favorite GFCF cookbook, "Cooking for Isaiah". (My gluten-eating son in law told me he likes this crust better than regular pizza crust!)

Did you know you can make your own pizza sauce from one of those little cans of tomato paste? (To be sure your tomato paste is GF, read the ingredients. It should be made from tomatoes. Period. Just tomatoes.) There is a recipe here to make it into pizza sauce. I use a tablespoon of Penzeys Pizza Seasoning, fresh garlic and salt & pepper for the seasonings. This makes a lot of sauce so freeze the unused portion for your next pizza night!

Pile on the toppings and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'll admit it. I was scared.

I'll admit it. I was scared. Pie crust has always been my thang and the thought of attempting a gluten free version scared the bejeebers out of me. But I did it!
I made two apple pies and two pumpkin pies using the pie crust recipe in the "Cooking For Isaiah" cookbook. It was very different than making pie crusts with wheat flour (much more challenging) and I'm not sure this is a recipe I'll use again. I guess we'll know tomorrow how they taste.

I didn't need to adapt my filling recipe for the apple pie but I did have to make some changes to the regular pumpkin pie recipe because of the evaporated milk. I found a GFCF recipe that eliminated the milk altogether and used some ghee instead. Each pie has 3 full cups of pumpkin in it along with 4 eggs, sugar, ghee and some spices. Again, I'll know tomorrow if this is a recipe I'll use again or recommend.

My Thanksgiving preparations are done. My mom is hosting the big meal this year so there's no house cleaning or turkey thawing going on here tonight. And Mom is making everything GFCF. Thanks, Mom! ♥

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My 48 cent Boo-yah!

The super sized "mart of walls" store is one of my least favorite places to shop but until a few weeks ago I had to include a stop there on my regular grocery shopping rounds. That was the only place I could find FlaxMilk, our favorite milk substitution.

A few weeks ago I discovered that they are no longer carrying it so I can no longer get FlaxMilk in my area. I asked to speak to the dairy department manager but was left to stand and wait so long that I decided to go home and call to talk to him. When I called, I was placed on hold and I finally hung up after about 15 minutes. Aarrrgghhhh.

So I went back today to see if, by some Thanksgiving miracle, they were carrying FlaxMilk again. They aren't. I didn't want to waste a trip so I picked up a few items and then went to the small "gluten free" section of one of the aisles. That's where I found this.

Anyone who does any gluten free baking will recognize this product. Xanthan Gum. I've paid anywhere between $9-$13 for a package this size so the 48 cent sign really caught my attention. There was just one package remaining so I picked it up to see if it had expired.

2013. Not even close to expiring.

I concluded that they must be discontinuing this product just like they discontinued the FlaxMilk we loved. But just in case, I put the one remaining package back on the shelf and took this picture. Then I grabbed the package and headed for the checkout.

The package rang up at approximately $9 so I whipped out my phone and showed the check out lady the picture. She argued that the product must have been placed in the wrong spot and that it was hard to see the text below the 48 cents.

So I zoomed in nice and close on the words "GF Xanthan Gum" on the picture on my phone.

One of my pet peeves is having to argue about the price I clearly saw on the shelves but cell phone cameras might just make those arguments a thing of the past!

A manager came over and called back for someone to check the price on the shelf. I heard her say into her headpiece, "She took a picture" just before she looked at me and said, "You can have it for the 48 cents."

Boo-yah! Score one for the gluten free FlaxMilk missing momma.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chicken soup and dumplings

The last time I tried to make gluten free dumplings, I wasn't thrilled. I tried again tonight with much better results.

I cooked a whole chicken for several hours until the meat was falling off the bones. I deboned the chicken and put it back in the pot with some carrots, celery, onion, and seasonings. I used the recipe on this blog to make the dumplings.

Start with 2 cups of a flour blend consisting of equal parts of tapioca flour, potato starch, arrowroot and rice flour. Add 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp guar gum. Mix in 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk and 3 beaten eggs. Drop by tablespoon into hot soup and put dutch oven in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes to cook and brown the dumplings.

Winter is just starting so I'll have more opportunities to keep tweaking the dumplings. We liked these but I'm not sure this recipe is "it". It's close though.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

GFCF Cornbread muffins

Bean helped me make a large pot of chili for tonight's supper and I made cornbread muffins to go with it. I did some other baking today too, but I'll share those recipes in another post at another time. Here's the recipe I used for the GFCF cornbread muffins (adapted from two other recipes I found online.)

1 cup corn flour (you can use a GF cornmeal but I like the texture of the corn flour better)

1 cup sugar (this is a pretty sweet cornbread muffin so you don't need a dessert!)

3/4 cup rice flour

3 T. tapioca flour

2 T. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 heaping T. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup coconut or almond milk

1/2 cup melted Earth Balance non-dairy butter

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

Heat oven to 375 degrees and prepare muffin tins with baking spray or cupcake liners. Combine dry ingredients and add milk, melted Earth Balance, vanilla and beaten eggs. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes. Makes approx. 18 cornbread muffins.

Bean and my nephew split one for a pre-supper taste test and both declared 5 stars!

GFCF potato leek soup

It has been a while since I posted a recipe. It's not that I haven't been making any food for my family, it's just that I haven't had time to write about it! Most of our meals last week were ones that I've made and written about before, but this one was new and I wanted to share it here.

Gluten and casein free potato leek soup. Mmmmm. As we enter the winter season, there is nothing quite like a creamy bowl of soup...and this one is easy, delicious and inexpensive!
I didn't really follow a recipe exactly but what I did was close to this recipe. I made a larger recipe, used all vegetable broth (no water) and used different seasonings (garlic and Penzey's Bouquet Garni instead of marjoram and hot sauce) but cooking is all about individual tastes and creativity. Go wild.
Chop, chop, chop...

Sautee the leeks for a few minutes in olive oil or ghee (the recipe I linked to says margarine but we don't use margarine). Then throw everything together in a crock pot. Your house will smell wonderful all day long.

Blend until smooth, serve with GFCF garlic bread and enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

GFCF Chicken and Biscuits

Last night I made Chicken and Biscuits using this recipe and I think we've found a new favorite cold weather comfort food! I just used our milk and butter alternatives to make the gluten free recipe casein free, too.
I made the biscuits first.

Then I chopped veggies while I browned the chicken.

The chicken came out of the pot while I sauteed onions in olive oil in it. When they were soft, I made a roux out of a GF flour blend. I added chicken stock and then added the veggies, chicken and seasonings.

It smelled wonderful.

The chicken and veggies went into my favorite green baking dish (have you noticed I use it a lot?! I actually have two sets!) and the biscuits topped it off.

It baked for about 25 minutes and then....



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