Archive for Recipes

Pumpkin Muffins – Finally!!

    Gluten-free pumpkin bread is a recipe that I have been working on ever since gluten awareness because it is such a family favorite. The recipe has wandered down many culinary alleys (some of them dark) with various flours, binders, sweeteners and never quite making it. Finally there is this recipe. It is receiving favorable comments from people accustomed to these experiments and some who have tasted them and just enjoyed them as pumpkin muffins without qualification.
    What has been really interesting is that the beginning versions that followed the original recipe exactly, except for flour, have been totally unsatisfactory. It was only after the versions using vegan binders did the texture start to become more satisfactory. This is something for future experimentation.
    My only disclaimer at this point is due to the fact that while the recipe has been in development it has only been baked in silicon cupcake forms. That allows for tasting fresh and warm, tasting the day after baking, and finally tasting after freezing and barely re-warming in the microwave plus having sample sizes ready-to-eat. So I have not tried loaf pans yet and do not know what baking-without-gluten issues may lay there – fair warning!

Ingredients:
1.5 tbsp ground chia seed
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
½ cup + 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cups quinoa flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan
1/2 tsp fruit pectin
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbsp water (optional)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare for 20-24 cupcake size muffins or perhaps 12 large muffins.

In a large bowl:
Combine the ground chia with the applesauce. Add the agave nectar and pumpkin puree and stir until combined. I have previously added some drops of stevia to make them sweeter but they are very well received without it. Set aside for about 30 minutes or so to allow the chia to absorb some moisture. Add coconut oil and vanilla just before combining with the dry ingredients as coconut oil has a tendency to congeal at room temperature.

In a medium bowl:
Sift the flours, xanthan, pectin, baking powder, baking soda, spices and sea salt. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined. If the batter is really stiff stir in one tablespoon of water at a time until the batter is a scoopable texture (dense and puffy).

Fill your prepared bake ware to the 2/3 level. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness with a tester or with a very thin knife.

Allow the muffins to cool in pan on a wire rack. Turn out after 10 minutes so they don’t get sweaty. After they have cooled wrap individual servings and store in an air-tight container on the counter for 3 days or keep in the freezer.

These have a very cake-like texture and I have also frosted them with a cashew cream frosting and served them as cupcakes.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Sweet Potato Obsession

SOS Kitchen Challenge

SOS Kitchen Challenge

    The SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient for November is sweet potatoes, another one of my favorites! SOS (i.e. Sweet or Savory) is hosted by the fabulous duo Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  and Kim at Affairs of Living. Be sure to check out their SOS Kitchen Challenge sites for lots of yummy recipe submissions that are sure to inspire you. It is due to my obsession with this veggie that The Gluten-Free Edge has long had an entire recipe category labeled Sweet Potato.

    I was working on a sweet- potato-coconut-pecan biscuit recipe back in March about the time they went out of season here in Texas. They are still on the to-do-someday-list and Ricki’s Sweet Potato Biscuit post reminded me that I need to get back to that soon (like when they are still in season). 😉

    However, currently the Thanksgiving menu is on my mind along with other events so I am going really simple with something that I used to take along to the office with me back-in-the-day when I was employed as a data consultant.

    What do you do to stay healthy with very little time to spend on yourself? You take it down to the essential elements of food, sleep, and exercise. One of those food elements was the sweet potato, which became my best mid-morning snack. As long as that was tucked in my lunch bag waiting for break time I could easily bypass any confection that came along.

Sweet Potato Obsession
Sweet potatoes (mid-sized)
Vanilla extract (in a dropper bottle)
Almond extract (in a dropper bottle) optional
Cinnamon (in a salt shaker)
Truvia packets

    Wash the sweet potatoes thoroughly and trim if necessary. Dry them off and then stab with a sharp knife several times to create steam vents as they can explode otherwise (quite messy to clean up). Place them in your microwave and set the timer for five minutes initially.

Scrubbed, Trimmed, Ready to Cook

Scrubbed, Trimmed, Ready to Cook

    There is a learning curve here as sweet potatoes vary greatly in size, shape, and moisture content and microwaves vary greatly in power. So you must be prepared to keep that little sharp knife on standby to test them every so often until they are tender enough through-and-through to mash up with a fork.

    They are very hot and steamy when they first come out so allow them to cool while you do something else. Then split them down the middle and cross-hatch the insides leaving the skin intact as part of your eventual packaging. Sprinkle with the Truvia granules, cinnamon, and a few drops of vanilla. The vanilla adds the flavor illusion of marshmallows melting on top of a sweet potato casserole. Note: the dropper bottles save on spilling and cleanup – my eye-hand coordination was never reliable.

Baked, Split, Scored, Seasoned

Baked, Split, Scored, Seasoned

    Half of a good sized sweet potato may be enough for your snack or if they are small then pack up a whole one. I kept a saucer, mug, and metal spoon in a desk drawer so I could have a cup of coffee and snack that didn’t taste like it came out of a deli bag.

Finished, Wrapped (and one already gone)

Finished, Wrapped (and one already gone)

Gretchen (Mom)

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Zatter Dip, Spread, or Sauce for a Casserole

    It’s time for another SOS Challenge recipe hosted by Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  and Kim at Affairs of Living.  This recipe is submitted to the SOS Kitchen Challenge for October. Sesame seeds are a fantastic choice for this month’s SOS Challenge ingredient. Sesame seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients and rightfully deserve to be an SOS featured ingredient!
    My sweet-tooth had a nifty recipe planned out before seasonal allergies hit and left me dizzy, headachy, and spending most of my time in bed with my eyes covered. A savory recipe came to mind while I was dozing in a Benadryl induced semi-coma. It would not only taste good but it would be very helpful to my queasy stomach. All the requisite ingredients were in the pantry and so began the experiment – in ve-ry slow stages.
    First, I soaked the dried beans that would be the base of the sauce. Our mothers prepared dried beans by soaking them overnight or longer. Then one day someone started doing a ‘quick-soak’ and beans have not been the same since then. Soak and rinse several times over the course of 24 hours to remove a number of unpleasant compounds and your beans will cook more evenly, be cleaner, save energy and taste better. For a complete explanation -> bean prep.
    Then I thought about the zatter spice mixture. My zatter was not especially fresh but the ingredients are so simple that I decided to make it up on the fly. Zatter is an ancient mixture that in its simplest form is toasted sesame seeds, thyme, and salt. It is often mixed with olive oil, spread on pita bread and served with hot tea. So I pulled out the olive oil, sesame seeds (bought in bulk), thyme, and sea salt.
    I toasted the sesame seeds in olive oil over low heat after the beans were cooked and cooling. The beans went into the old faithful blender followed by the cooled sesame/oil mixture, sea salt, and thyme. The fragrance of the warm sesame seeds was validation enough for choosing to put it together this way. The resulting mixture was thick and rich with flavor.

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

    Part of my ‘delirious dream’ recipe was pasta! I had cooked up some Tinkyada brown rice shells while the bean/zatter mixture was in process. It was resting in an ovenproof dish and ready for the sauce. I had to add some water to thin the bean/zatter paste to sauce which had me thinking down the road to other uses for this tasty bean mixture – like a dip for veggies or as a sandwich spread.

Zatter Casserole
Zatter Casserole

The result is tasty, nourishing, soothing and a very different spin on rice and beans!

Zatter Casserole
2 cups of cooked white beans
1 cup dry Tinkyada brown rice sea shells pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon thyme

    The beans should be well soaked and cooked until tender. Cook the pasta according to package directions until ‘al dente’ or softer if you prefer. Transfer the cooked, drained pasta to a baking dish. Measure the beans into the blender jar.
    Pour the olive oil into a small skillet and add the sesame seeds. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally until the seeds look toasty and you can smell their savory goodness. Remove from the burner and allow it to cool for a bit so as to avoid a splattering hot oil incident. Then add the cooled sesame mixture to the blender jar. Measure the salt and thyme into the jar and process until smooth. You may need to add a bit of liquid if the mixture is too dry to process smoothly.
    Once the sauce is processed it can be stirred directly into the pasta. The pasta may have cooled somewhat by this time. The casserole can be stored in the fridge until needed or used immediately. It can be reheated in a microwave or conventional oven. This recipe makes about two grown-up servings.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Dark Chocolate No-Guilt Fudge

    The recipe for Chocolatey Fudge from Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs was intimidating. It sounded easy and yes, so yummy, but could it really be that easy? 

    I read and re-read the recipe and thought about my blender. Sometimes my wimpy old blender and I don’t get along but I am reluctant to learn a new machine along with a new recipe. Rita has a food processor stored here in my cupboard and next time I will definitely use it. You need a machine with ‘muscle’ for this recipe. The blender whined and groaned and started sending out smoke signals before we called truce. So this first batch has little bits of beans that are visible although not enough to stop any of my dedicated testers. And if you truly love deep, dark chocolate this will give you a chocolate fix without the sugar hangover. It looks like fudge, it tastes like fudge, and it IS fudge.

   You need to read Ricki’s version before you decide which way you would rather make it. She crumbles the unsweetened chocolate and adds it at the end. This version has it all melted in and fudgy smooth all the way through – almost the same ingredients but a different technique.

This Fudge Is Really Good!

This Fudge Is Really Good!

1 ounce (30 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, soft at room temperature

1-3/4 cups (420 ml) cooked, drained and rinsed black beans (canned beans work best)
1/4 cup (60 ml) natural smooth almond butter, room temperature or slightly warmer
1/2 cup (60 g) cocoa powder
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) yacon syrup, agave nectar or vegetable glycerin
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to taste
pinch fine sea salt

    Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and set aside.

    Place chocolate in a small microwavable bowl and spoon the coconut oil over it. Heat this in the microwave for one minute. Test the chocolate with a thin knife. The coconut oil should be hot and the chocolate just soft and melted but still holding its shape. This might take several iterations of heating and testing. Do – not – overheat!

    Add all of the remaining ingredients to the processor and pour the coconut oil/chocolate mixture on top and blend until very smooth. Use a spatula to help push down and incorporate all of the ingredients if necessary. The mixture will be thick. If the almond butter is the least bit chilly the coconut oil and chocolate can suddenly harden and seize.

    Transfer fudge mixture to the loaf pan and press down to compress it and push out any air bubbles. I sprinkled a packet of Truvia over the top to give it a ‘sugary’ finish but the loaf just dissolved the crystals and it disappeared overnight.

    Allow the fudge to set up in the refrigerator for an hour, then cover the top with more plastic and refrigerate until very firm, 2 hours or up to overnight. Slice into squares. Because it contains no sugar to act as a preservative it needs to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Microwave Baked Apples

    The SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient for September is apples.  There are so many varieties of apples in the market right now. Choose your favorite or one of the weekly specials.  Usually I go for Golden Delicious but the Pink Lady variety is relatively new and entirely wonderful.  Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Kim at Affairs of Living.  Be sure to check out the SOS Kitchen Challenge for September site for lots of other healthy recipe submissions by other bloggers.

    This is a naturally gluten-free treat that Don and I have enjoyed over the years. It began as apple pie with crust, canned pie-sliced apples, and lots of sugar, raisins, and cinnamon. The recipe morphed into baked apples after we received a set of individual ceramic baking dishes and decided that as a regular dessert it was better not to have all of that crust.
    After a while those convenient water-packed pie–sliced apples were no longer available so we alternated between baked apples from scratch or baked apples from pie filling enhanced with raisins and more cinnamon. The high-fructose-corn-syrup in pie filing always tasted like glue to me so I only ate baked apples when we used fresh apples.
    We began to experiment with the current recipe about ten years ago – while we were still living in the country. It was there that we settled on this mix of fresh, partially peeled apples, no-cal sweetener (I really was sneaky about the switchover), plenty of cinnamon, good vanilla to enhance the fruit flavor, and raisins. I always liked raisins. But no one I’ve ever known likes them as much as Don. His motto is ‘too many raisins is not enough’ – there is a song that goes something like that but it is not really about raisins.
    When we started using the microwave to cook in we switched from the ceramic bowls to inexpensive microwave-safe glass bowls so we prepare, bake, and serve all in the same easy-clean dishes.

Individual Baked Apple Desserts
1 apple per serving
1-2 tablespoons seedless raisins per serving
1 packet Truvia per serving (this is equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar)
Cinnamon to taste
About 6 drops of vanilla per serving

    Start with freshly washed and dried apples. Quarter, seed, and peel or not peel to your preference. I like a little more peeling and Don likes less. Cut each quarter into small bites and place a cut up apple in each microwavable serving dish.

A Quick and Easy Preparation

A Quick and Easy Preparation

    Add the raisins – here Don likes more and I like less. Then sprinkle the Truvia crystals over the fruit. Shake some cinnamon on top of the crystals and add the drops of vanilla. Stir to distribute then raisins and seasoning. Add some more cinnamon – almost always.
    Place the desserts in the microwave and set the timer for two minutes. Stir and cook for another minute. The apples will have started releasing juice and getting tender. The cinnamon, sweetener, vanilla, and apple juice are blending into a delectable coating for the apples and raisins. Microwave the mixture for one more minute. Remove the desserts to a rack and cover until somewhat cool. Right out of the microwave it will burn your tongue and that is not fun.

Baked and Ready to Serve

Baked and Ready to Serve

    This dessert is really good plain. The tart bites of apple with the sweet bits of raisin do not need embellishment. Top with a handful of chopped walnuts and you have breakfast.
    A tiny bit of fresh sweet cream, whipped cream, ice cream, full fat coconut milk, or a non-dairy frozen dessert makes an acceptable topping. One of those frozen-synthetic-low-fat-imitation-whipped-toppings is an insult to a good apple but if that is what rocks the boat for someone you love then you keep a tub of it in the freezer for them.
    Apples are in season and it is time to enjoy them!

Gretchen (Mom)

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Flax Bread with Variations

   Note: Jessica Meyer at ATX Gluten Free  is featuring Austin area gluten-free bloggers during the month of September. This week it is The Gluten-Free Edge  with Mom and Rita each telling the stories of our gluten-free journeys. As I mentioned back in April, Jessica provides an excellent service by highlighting gluten free options in Austin. In addition she is a personal chef who generously posts some of her tasty gluten-free recipes!

    Rita initially called this flax bread recipe to my attention. It is not the bread from your pre-gluten-free past because you probably never had anything exactly like this. But it is very tasty, satisfying and I keep baking some nearly every week. It goes together as fast as or maybe even faster than cornbread. You can find the original recipe by Kiva Rose at The Medicine Woman’s Roots.

Flax Bread Cooling

Flax Bread Cooling

    The ‘flours’ in this bread are ground flax seeds and nut meal so consequently it has a very coarse texture (fiber is good, right?). I have baked it in muffin top pans, extra-large muffin pans, a pie pan, and even a brownie pan. The batter spreads easily and bakes quickly. In the flat pans it can bake in 12 minutes.

Preparing Flat Flax Bread

Preparing Flat Flax Bread

    It tastes good toasted!

Flat Pieces Fit in the Toaster

Flat Pieces Fit in the Toaster

    The first time I made these with melted Earth Balance for the fat and a whole teaspoon of salt. They were so buttery tasting they brought to mind the old children’s story where the tigers chase each other around in circles for so long that they turn into a puddle of butter.

   So now I use less salt and substitute olive oil as the fat. You can improvise here with your own favorite herbs and spices. I keep thinking about making a sweet version but each time I go right for the savory. The garlic and oregano version reminds me of pre-gluten-free garlic bread. The sage and onion version are wonderful with soup and/or salad. Cumin and chili powder is another combination that I want to try.

    My current favorite is to make them in the Texas size muffin pans where they pop out like perfectly formed biscuits. Then I split one and fill it with a spoon of peanut butter or a small slice of cheddar. If I have time consuming errands on my to-do list I sometimes tuck one of these in my purse for a homemade version of ‘emergency food’.

Biscuit with Melting Cheese

Biscuit with Melting Cheese

Flax Bread with Variations – 6 servings
Dry Mixture:
2/3 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup nut meal (Bob’s Red Mill almond or hazelnut both give good results)
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/2-1 tsp. salt

Seasonings:
1 tsp. sage
1/4 tsp. onion powder
OR
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Liquid:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup water + 2 Tbsp.

Measure the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add your choice of seasoning or leave plain.

Beat the 2 eggs together with the olive oil and water. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture in the mixing bowl.

Set the oven to 350*F.

Pour the batter into your choice of pan or divide into six muffins of about 1/4 cup batter each.

Bake for 12 minutes for muffins or 15-18 minutes for a small bread pan or pie plate. I usually have one biscuit warm and the rest go in the freezer to use throughout the week.

Remember to drink plenty of liquid!

Mom (Gretchen)

Happy Birthday to Rita’s Aunt Mandie aka my Baby Sister in Bryan, Texas!

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Fig-Lemon Walnut-Streusel Cake

    The SOS Kitchen Challenge is going on and I am not going to make the cut this month. There has been too much going on and did I mention that Central Texas fruit trees have me swamped in frozen and cooked, pureed fruit? So if you love peppermint you need to check in with Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs  and/or Kim at Affairs of Living for fabulous MINT recipes, mint being the challenge ingredient for August.
    During the next few months I will be looking at ways to create gluten-free recipes using mostly staples found on the shelves at The Caring Place food pantry. The organization is in the process of stepping up to the next level in service and has formed a focus group to look at useful options. I will be looking at making gluten-free easier for people who do not have the luxury of time to experiment.
    So right now I am finishing up a few experiments that have been rattling around in my head. This afternoon it was using puree I had prepared from fresh figs. Rita was laughing at me as I sniffed the batter and tried to decide what flavor options to emphasize and how to do it. She giggled and accused me of ‘huffing spices’.
    And I was so engrossed I forgot to take pictures along the way. Happily this is not just good cake it is REALLY GOOD. We are planning on having some more of it for breakfast in the morning.

Looks Good, Smells Good, Tastes Good!

Looks Good, Smells Good, Tastes Good!

Fresh Fig Puree:
About 4 cups of fresh figs, cut in halves or quarters depending on size
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons agave syrup (to help draw the natural juice from the figs)
Place the figs, water, and syrup in a 1 quart saucepan that has a heavy bottom and a tight fitting lid. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat on low. Be patient while the heat begins to ‘melt’ the figs and draw out their juice. The lid on my pan was glass so I could watch the steam gather and begin to baste the fruit. The figs should cook until tender but don’t boil them to pieces either. Stir occasionally so all of the pieces are evenly cooked. The flavor is delicate and you want to keep as much as possible.
    Remove the pan from the stove to cool when the fruit is done. When it has cooled somewhat then transfer the mixture into your blender jar. Push the button that says ‘puree’ and watch carefully. You may need to scrape down the sides for an even texture. This should not take more than a minute or so. Small bits of pulp are a good thing. Take a tiny taste – if it is not ‘fruity sweet’ then add a few drops of stevia to help it out. This should give you the amount of puree needed for the cake. A little more or less is OK. If the cake has more moisture then it will just bake a little longer.
Note: this can be stored in the refrigerator for several days before putting into the cake.

Wet Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups fig puree (about)
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon ground chia seed
1/2 teaspoon fruit pectin
1/4 cup coconut oil (your choice of liquid cooking oil)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil (found with essential oils and not with extracts)

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups quinoa flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Walnut-Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup quinoa flour
3 small packets Truvia sweetener
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup margarine (Earth Balance)(coconut oil probably OK)
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts (or your favorite nuts)
2 tablespoons agave syrup

    1. Pour the fig puree into a bowl. Sprinkle the chia seed across the surface and stir in quickly so it doesn’t have a chance to clump. Do the same with the pectin. Stir in the coconut oil, vanilla, and lemon oil and set the mixture aside.
    2. Sift the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl, stir with a whisk, and set aside.
    3. Prepare the streusel topping by mixing the flour, Truvia granules, and spices together. Cut in the margarine (or cold coconut butter) with a pastry blender. Add the chopped nuts. Lightly stir in the syrup with a fork. Then set this aside.
    4. Turn the oven on to 350*F. Lightly oil or spray 2 9” square pans and set aside.

    Stir the fig mixture quickly into the flour mixture. Divide the batter into the prepared pans and spread out evenly to the corners. Then carefully sprinkle the streusel mixture on top and press gently into the surface of the batter.

Remembering All of the Alterations

Remembering All of the Alterations

    Bake for about 25 minutes. If it still seems a little too moist then turn off the oven and let it remain for 2-3 more minutes in the residual heat.

Some thoughts about this recipe:
Most of the ingredients are nutritional superstars. This treat can be dessert or a meal. The flour ingredients are exactly the same as the Rhubarb-Date Pecan-Crumble recipe. The changes were the base puree and the spices and flavoring. I plan to experiment with different fruits and even mixing fruit and veggie, for instance banana or white squash with lemon and encourage others to play with it also. The ingredients that give this cake texture and post-baking stability are 1) chia seed stands in for an egg and 2) the fruit pectin combines with the acid in the fruit and the sugar in the agave to form the gel that produces jams and jellies.

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita

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