Crockpot Turkey Meatball Soup

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I’ve been singing the praises of the crockpot for years. If you don’t have one, you need one. They are an inexpensive investment for saving time. I don’t know one person that wouldn’t like to save time who doesn’t at least occasionally dread the thought of making dinner when they’ve worked a long day inside or outside of their home. This can be prepared the day before, refrigerated, and then you just pop it in the crockpot in the morning before the start of your busy day. Six to eight hours later, you’ll be greeted by the soothing smells of homemade soup. Kick off your shoes, warm up some bread (gluten-free of course) and you’re done for the day.

Crockpot Turkey Meatball Soup

2 Packages of Ground Turkey

2 Eggs

1 Tbsp. Basil

1 Tbsp. Oregano

Small Sprig of Rosemary

About 1/4 Cup Dairy-Free Parmesan

1 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic

1 tsp. Sea Salt

1/2 tsp. Pepper

Olive Oil

1 Large Onion

1 Heaping Cup of Pre-Shredded Carrots

3 Large Kale Leaves, Stalks Removed & Leafy Parts Chopped

2 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic

2 tsp. Sea Salt

1 tsp. Pepper

About 4 Boxes of Gluten-Free Chicken Broth

Place the ground turkey, eggs, chopped basil,oregano and rosemary, chopped garlic, dairy free parmesan, and 1 tsp. of sea salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper in a large bowl. Combine all of the ingredients with your hands, being careful not to overwork the mixture. You want all of the ingredients completely combined but not “mushy” and without at least a little texture. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form the turkey into about 1 inch balls. I would say it makes between 45-50 (Almost two trays.)

Bake in a 400 degree oven until lightly golden. About 30 minutes or so. Don’t overcook them as turkey has very little fat and they will become dry.

While the turkey is baking chop the onion and remaining garlic and saute in olive oil just until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add the chopped carrots and toss for 2 minutes, add the chopped kale and toss for two minutes more. Place meatballs and sautéed ingredients in crock pot, fill with chicken broth, season with remaining salt and pepper and cook on low for 6-8 hours depending on your schedule for the day.

This is a full crockpot so I would say that it would serve at least five hungry people with a little left over. I served it in the infamous Pier 1 debacle ramekins and I think the contrast was quite nice.

White Wine & Rum Sangria

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It feels a little ridiculous to post this right now considering it’s been snowing all morning. But, on Easter and the day before Easter, it was sunny and beautiful. I wanted a brunch cocktail and thought a sangria would be nice. The Mandarin oranges and Key limes are a perfect marriage of tangy and sweet. This would be a a great drink to make in a big batch before a camping trip as well. It can sit in a fridge or cooler for a couple of days and would be amazingly refreshing on a hot, summer day. A portion of this recipe needs to be made in advance, the night before you’re going to actually drink it, or a couple of days before if you’re going to take it camping with you.

White Wine and Rum Sangria

1 1/2 Bottles of White Wine (I used St. Michelle’s Riesling)

1 Cup of Rum (I used Meyer’s Dark Rum)

1/3 Cup Sugar

2 Medium Mandarin Oranges

Juice of 1 Mandarin Orange

8 Key Limes

Lemon wedges, more Key limes, and 2 more Mandarin oranges for glasses.

Crushed Ice

Club Soda

Framboise

Pour wine and rum into a tall glass pitcher. Add sugar and stir. Slice wash, dry, and slice the 2 oranges and the 8 Key limes. Place the sliced fruit in the wine and rum mixture and stir. Cover with plastic and refrigerate over night.

Slice up fruit to put in glasses, cover and refrigerate. This can also be done the night before.

Right before serving, stir the mixture, add ice, smashing down the fruit a little. Place a couple of pieces of the fruit into glass tumblers or wine glasses and add a splash of club soda and Framboise.

Gluten Free & Dairy Free Chocolate Trifle

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Talk about comfort food. Cake, pudding, whipping cream, and a mixed berry sauce? And on top of it being delicious and decadent comfort food, it looks gorgeous!

I made this for our Easter get together. I think this is the first gathering that everything I made was completely gluten-free and dairy-free. It was nice because I usually try to accommodate the whole crowd. It helped that other people also brought things of course, but I think that the only allergen food we had, was an angel food cake that my mother-in-law brought at the request of my son because it’s his favorite. I am dairy-free and gluten-free but my husband and son are not. My goal for the future, hopefully over the next year or so, is to get us as close to a gluten-free and dairy-free house as I can, without people freaking out. It’s a healthier way to live and there really isn’t any reason to have it around when there are so many amazing and healthier alternatives out there.

I kept forgetting to take pictures as I went along, so they’re sporadic at best.

This trifle proves that you can live a dairy-free and gluten-free life, have your cake, and eat it too.

Chocolate Trifle

1 Box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix

1 tsp Instant Coffee Crystals

1 Cup Water

3 Eggs

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter

Make cake according to directions, except add the 1 tsp. of coffee crystals to the batter while mixing. Cool Completely, cover and refrigerate.

Dairy-Free Pudding:

The original recipe for this pudding came from a website called Covenant Natural Health Care. I changed it and added my own “flair”.

4 Cups Almond Milk (for the recipe I used 3 cups almond milk and 1 cup Mimiccreme, however, I didn’t like the flavor that theMimmicreme left. It was too nutty for my taste, I wouldn’t use it again.)

3 Tbsp. Potato Starch

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 Cups Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips

3 Tbs. Sugar

1 Tbsp. Instant Coffee Crystals

1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla

Whisk together 1/2 cup of almond milk and the potato starch and set aside. Combine the remaining milk, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, sugar, and coffee crystals in a large saucepan.

Warm over medium heat, whisking, until chocolate chips have melted and it comes to a very low boil, careful not to heat it too fast or the milk will scald. Whisk in the potato starch mixture and cook for 10 minutes until pudding starts to thicken and begins to boil. I added a little more almond milk (1/2 cup) at this point because I thought mine was too thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a large bowl and allow to cool on the counter for 1/2 hour.  Next, cover with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic to lay on the top of the pudding so that the pudding doesn’t form a skin. Refrigerate over night.

Mixed Berry Sauce:

1 16 oz. Bag of Frozen Mixed Berries (Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)

About 1/2 Cup Sugar

About 2 tsp. of Potato Starch

Place berries and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium until they are completely melted and come to a boil. Stir with a spoon. Mix the potato starch with about 2 Tbs. of water and add to the berries. Bring to a boil over medium high, stirring, and allow to thicken. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and refrigerate over night.

Coconut Whipping Cream: (Make this the same day you are putting together the trifle)

I Googled Vegan Whipping Cream and this is the recipe that I settled on. I changed it of course. I would make it a bit thicker next time, I think this time I allowed a little too much of the actual coconut milk into the mixture.

1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk, from two 13.5 oz cans (I used 3)

1/3 cup powdered sugar or to taste (I used a 1/2 cup, maybe a little more)

1 – 4 Tbsp coconut flour or tapioca flour, add 1 Tbsp at a time (I used 4 Tbs. tapioca flour)

1 Tbsp vanilla extract or to taste (I used 2 Tbsp. pure Vanilla extract)

Shaved dairy-free chocolate

Place the cans of coconut milk in the fridge over night (or longer if you wish). The coconut milk will separate from the coconut solids. Open the cans carefully and scoop out the solids from the top and place in mixing bowl. Beat the coconut cream until thick and fluffy, slowly adding in the powdered sugar and tapioca flour. Add the vanilla extract.

Remove the cake, pudding, and berry sauce from the fridge. Break off pieces of the cake and form a layer on the bottom of the trifle dish. (You’ll need two layers of cake.) Spoon half of the pudding mixture over the cake, a little less than half of the berry mixture, and half of the coconut whipping cream. Repeat the process, leaving a little whipping cream and berry mixture for the top. Shave dairy-free chocolate over the top and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.


Bring on Spring Cupcakes!

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Evidently, Mother Nature lost her rule book or something, because we aren’t supposed to have as many rainy, cloudy, days as Seattle. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my neck of the woods, I basically live on the Washington/Idaho border. I am pretty sure that we could give Seattle a run for their money on who has had the most rain in the last 12 months. I bet we’re pretty darn close. I’m running out of positive things to think about all of this rain we’ve been getting. It’s relentless and it seems like it’s been going on for months on end. The more I think about it, it probably isn’t even the rain that is driving me to grimace when I hear those drops smacking the window as much as the lack of sunlight. Now if it could rain and be sunny all at the same time…maybe then I wouldn’t be so apt to sigh and roll my eyes when I look outside lately.

Since there’s not much hanging around outside going on around here, I took some extra time to wander around our local Fred Meyer yesterday. (Woo hoo, what fun right?) Well, I ran across some cute little cupcake papers that I thought were really cool and very “Spring like”. At this point, I’m willing to do just about anything to bring Spring to my house, even if it’s in the form of cupcake papers and pastel colored sprinkles.

I also decided to buy myself a few bouquets of flowers to brighten up the house.  Set three different vases out, and you know what? It does brighten up the house and bring a little of the outdoors in. So until Mother Nature remembers that we’re on the eastern side of Washington state and brings us the beautiful Spring weather we’re used to, I’ll have to rely on tulip cupcake papers, and fresh bouquets of flowers.

See, even Romeo, one of our dogs is enjoying bringing a little Spring into the house. Notice sweet, furry, nose on the left.

Red Raspberry Surprise Spring Cupcakes

Preheat Oven To 350°  (Makes 12 Cupcakes)

1 Box Betty Crocker Yellow Gluten Free Cake Mix

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter

1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract

3 Eggs

2/3 Cup Water

*Red Raspberry all fruit jelly – about 5 oz. or half a jar. (This will get piped into the cupcakes after they have cooled)

*Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Cream Cheese Frosting (It’s gluten-free and dairy-free)

Follow mixing directions on box. Line a muffin tin with 12 white cupcake papers. Lightly squirt each one with just a tiny amount of non-stick spray. Fill cupcake papers with batter.

Bake in preheated oven for 21 minutes. Cool completely.

Once cooled, fill piping bag with jelly(use at least a #5 round tip). Gently squeeze jelly into center of each cupcake.

Place cupcakes in flower papers.

Frost as desired.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Sandwich Buns

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OK, so as some of you know, there’s not a lot to love about most gluten-free breads. They crumble, they taste “flat”, they are dry, they are void of almost any flavor, some of them have a weird slippery consistency when they are traveling down your throat, and a lot of them don’t really even resemble “real” bread. Well, today those experiences are going to change for you. This bread recipe is from 250 Gluten-Free Favorites by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt. If you are going to live the gluten-free life, you need this cook book as your bread bible. It’s filled with hundreds of fantastic and delicious recipes. They also have several other cook books to choose from, all of which are on my future “gifts I’d like to have” lists.

I have tried a gazillion pre-made, gluten-free breads along with maybe a gazillion more gluten-free bread recipes. This recipe is by far the ABSOLUTE best gluten-free bread I have ever tasted, hands down. And hold on to your seats people because what I’m about to tell you is going to make you want to jump for joy. When it bakes, it smells like gluten bread, when you slice it, it doesn’t fall apart. When you make a sandwich out of it, it doesn’t crumble. When you bite into it, it doesn’t have some creepy texture that makes you want to gag. It smells absolutely heavenly in the oven, coming out of the oven, and every single time you slice a piece of it. I’m even going to go out on a limb and call it perfect. You can slice it and butter it right out of the oven, you can make sandwiches, you can make toast, and you can dry it and make bread crumbs or bread cubes for stuffing. You can do whatever you want with it because it is real bread that smells and tastes and has the texture of the real thing. You can even fiddle around with the recipe a little to mix it up every now and then by trying different flours and grains. Can I get an Amen?

My husband and son bought me the cook book for Mother’s Day two years ago and I can’t count how many times I’ve made this recipe. When I finally grew tired of eating the infamous rice hamburger buns from the grocery store, you know which ones I’m referring to right? The ones that are almost as dry as cardboard, crumble when you bite into them, or get soggy when you try to put a condiment on them and are white and dense as a hockey puck? Yah, those horrific things. Anyway, when I finally got tired of dealing with those, I thought, “Why couldn’t I make my favorite bread recipe into hamburger and sandwich buns?” Well, it turned out that they actually sell hamburger bun pans online, much to my surprise. Since those pans arrived, I’ve been happily making my own delicious hamburger and sandwich buns thanks to Donna Washburn & Heather Butt. Next on the list…hot dog bun pans.

The first time you make this, it may seem like there’s a lot of ingredients which therefore make it complicated. Trust me, it’s extremely easy. What I do now to save time is buy the flours in bulk and then measure out about 10 bags or so of the dry ingredients at a time. I keep them in my pantry and then they are ready to go when I need them. All I have to do is add the wet ingredients and choose which pan I want to use.

Multigrain Bread

Preheat oven to 350 while you’re getting everything ready. Use a 9×5 inch loaf pan, lightly greased (or a hamburger bun pan).

1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour

1/2 Cup Gluten-Free Oat Flour

2/3 Cup Amaranth Flour

1/2 Cup Potato Starch

3 Tbsp. Amaranth Grain

1 Tbsp. Ground Flax Seed (Sometimes I switch these two around…1 Grain/3 Seed)

1 Tbsp. Xanthan Gum

2 tsp. Instant Yeast

1 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt

2 Eggs, lightly beaten

2 Egg Whites, lightly beaten

3/4 Cup Warm Water

3 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil (I use Olive Oil)

3 Tbsp. Honey

2 tsp. Cider Vinegar

1.  In a large bowl combine the flours, potato starch, amaranth grain, flaxseed, xanthan gum, yeast, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.

2.  In a seperate bowl, using a heavy-duty electric mixer with the paddle attachement, combine beaten eggs, beaten egg whites, water, oil, honey, and vinegar, until incorporated.

3.  With the mixer on its lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until combined. Stop the machine and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

With the mixer on medium high speed, beat for 4 minutes (set a timer).

4.  Spoon evenly into prepared pan. If you’re making a loaf of bread, spread it out so it is as even as possible.

If you’re doing sandwich buns or hamburger buns, wet fingers and carefully pat the dough out to fit the molds.

Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with oil and cover loosley and allow to rise on the top of the oven  for about 60 minutes. This time will depend on how warm your kitchen is. If you’re making a loaf of bread, don’t allow it to rise too much (just until it is peaking over the top of the pan), or it will fall when you take it out of the oven. If you’re making sandwich buns, the same applies. (Usually about 45-50 minutes.)

5.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread or sandwich buns register 200-205° on an instant-read thermometer (about $7 at your local grocery store). Remove the bread from the pan immediately, and allow to cool completely on a rack.

Anything Goes Granola

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I absolutely love granola. It’s great for breakfast, for a snack, to take in the car on a road trip, to sprinkle on ice cream, to top a fruit crisp, even to eat for dinner on those nights when your spouse is traveling and you don’t want to cook a big meal…I mean really, is there anyone that really doesn’t like granola? Even as I type this I can hear my husband saying, “I don’t like nuts in my granola.” Well, fine. Something else that is great about granola is that you can make it any way you want with literally hundreds of different types of ingredients. I don’t like mine really sweet or too “busy”. Just simple and delicious.

Depending on the size of your family, this recipe makes plenty to share with a favorite neighbor or friend. Put it in a neat jar or container and tie a pretty bow on it…makes a perfect and sweet little gift. If you’re going to keep it for your family to snack on, it keeps really well in zip lock bags or Tupperware containers.

And remember, it’s easy to personalize this granola recipe. Substitute other nuts and fruits, and other forms of sweeteners like maybe honey, agave syrup, or brown sugar.

Anything Goes Granola

Preheat oven to 350°

1 –  32 oz. Bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1 – 6 oz. Bag of Sliced Almonds

2 Cups Walnut Halves

1 1/2 Cups Shredded Sweetened Coconut

1 – 6 oz. Bag of Dried Berries ‘N Cherries

1 – 4 oz. Bag of Dried Wild Blueberries

1 – 6 oz. Bag of Dried Mediterranean Apricots

1 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

3 tsp. Pure Almond Extract

2 1/2 Tbsps. Oil (your choice, I used canola, you can also use melted butter)

1 1/2 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

Place the oats, almonds, walnuts, and coconut in a large roasting pan. Drizzle the maple syrup, oil, and sprinkle the cinnamon and sea salt over the oats. Stir until combined thoroughly.

Place in preheated oven and stir about every 15 minutes until golden and sightly crispy. About 90 minutes. While the granola is toasting, get the dried fruit ready. Snip the apricots in quarters.

Remove the granola from the oven when it is toasted to your satisfaction. Stir in the dried fruit and allow to cool thoroughly before storing.

Blueberry Cornbread

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Sometimes, I just want something simple and filling for breakfast. As most of you who are gluten-free know, comfort bread foods aren’t on your radar as much as they used to be. There’s a lot of pre-made gluten-free bread products out there, but I have yet to find many that are so delicious I would want to eat them every day. Plus, I don’t really want the added calories of eating those types of carbs on a daily basis. But, there are those mornings when I wake up craving pancakes, waffles, or cornbread. I keep a bag of Bob’s Red Mill cornbread on hand, so this morning, corn bread it is. Not traditional cornbread, but cornbread with a little twist to keep it exciting.

Blueberry Cornbread

1 Bag Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix

2 Organic Eggs

1/3 Cup Oil

1 1/2 Cups Almond Milk

1 1/2 Cups Frozen Organic Blueberries

1 tsp. Organic Cinnamon

Place mix, eggs, oil, milk, and cinnamon in large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Fold in blueberries, spread  into a prepared 9×9 inch pan and let rest while oven is preheating.

Bake in 375° oven for about 35-45 minutes or until top starts to turn golden and knife in center comes out clean.

Cool for a bit and serve warm with dairy-free butter & honey or dust with powdered sugar.