Some Of This & A Little Of That – Snack Bites

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I’m going to call these “healthy” because they have lots of things that are relatively good for you and only one thing that you could probably live without if you had to. Brown sugar. Not a ton, just enough to add a little sweetness, and I love the molasses flavor it provides.

There seems to be an outright war against sugar these days. But trust me, I won’t go down without a fight.

Snack Bites

*Makes about 20 or so snack bites.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 Cups Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oats

1/2 Cup Sweet Potato Puree (you can make your own, I used organic canned)

1/4 Cup Ground Flax Seed

2 Tablespoons Amaranth Grain

1/3 Cup Sweetened Coconut

1/3 Cup Raw Sliced Almonds

1/3 Cup Walnuts, roughly chopped

1/2 Bar, about 1 1/2 ounces, 70% Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped

3/4 Cup Dried Berries and Cherries, chopped

2 Eggs

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Measure all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well until all ingredients are moist and fully incorporated.

Line a baking sheet with muffin papers and fill with about 1 heaping Tablespoon of the oat mixture.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes until set and slightly crisp on top.

Sweet Potato Pitas

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This recipe is adapted from Sadonna Heathman’s blog, basilandtime.com. Sadly, she is no longer blogging! I was very disappointed to see that her blog no longer existed the other day when I popped in to see what new and exciting gluten-free goodies she had been making. Thankfully, I was being patient a few months ago when I was looking through her blog and took the time to print a few of her recipes. Usually I bookmark the blogs I’m looking at or think that those recipes will be there forever for me to head back and print…lesson learned.

I’m actually impressed with these pitas. They are more moist than a regular gluten pita (which I found nice) and hold together pretty well while being stuffed with yummy things. I sprinkled sesame seeds on top to give it a nicer look and a bit of texture, however I think the lighter sesame seeds make it look a little like a fast food hamburger bun. That bugs me for some reason, but such is life. Black sesame seeds would look nice, I think. You could also brush them with olive oil and garlic and sprinkle them with herbs.

Sweet Potato Pitas

1 1/3 Cups Sorghum Flour

1/3 Cup Brown Rice Flour (she used teff)

1/3 Cup Potato Starch (she used corn starch)

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum (she used 2)

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (she used table salt)

2 teaspoons yeast (she used 1)

1 teaspoon Agave Nectar (she used honey)

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1 Egg

1/2 Cup Warm Water

1 Cup Sweet Potato Puree (she made hers, mine came from a can…but it was organic!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees – makes 6 pitas

 

Place all of the wet ingredients plus the yeast in a large glass bowl and whisk. Set aside. Measure all of the dry ingredients in another bowl and whisk. Set aside.

Line two baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.

Place 3-4 mounds of mixture per baking sheet, dampen hands, and pat out to about a 5 inch circle. I made three 5″ and three 6 1/2″ circles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or olive oil and garlic, herbs…whatever you like.

Cover lightly with oiled plastic and allow to rest in a warm place for 35 minutes.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges just begin to turn golden. (I use a convection oven, a conventional oven may take a little longer.)

When they are done, remove from the oven and cool completely on wire racks. Do not leave them on the parchment as the parchment paper holds moisture.

Once they’ve cooled completely, use a very sharp and long knife to carefully slit through almost through the other side, creating a pocket to fill with your favorite things.

I filled mine with chopped romaine, chopped spinach, red onion, red bell pepper, tomato,1/2 an avocado, soft goat cheese, and Dijon mustard.

The View From Here

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Just when I was beginning to get excited to work in the yard, this showed up yesterday…

“Light snow flurries” with less than an inch of accumulation were predicted.

These are pictures from about the first 1/2 hour of the “snow flurries”. When it was all said and done, we ended up with 5 inches of snow and the ski mountain that is 40 minutes from us, received 21 inches of new snow. 

So what do you do when you’re ready for spring and it’s snowing? 

You bring spring home from the local grocery store.

Happy Sunday!

~ April

Italian Flatbread

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Well, lucky me to have such a successful bread recipe right out of the gate! As those of us who cook gluten-free know, even when you follow an allergen free recipe exactly, it’s not guaranteed to turn out. This flatbread recipe is adapted from Living Without magazine and is yeast free, gluten-free, and dairy free. It’s also incredibly easy.

I cannot believe how good it is. I used all of their flour and measurement suggestions except reduced the sugar by 1 Tablespoon, used dairy free butter and dairy free yogurt instead of regular, and added the seasonings and olive oil. The next time I make it I’m going to omit the sugar all together and see what happens. Why have the sugar in there if it’s really not necessary? There’s no yeast in the bread so they can’t be using it to feed that so it must just be for flavor. I would think that the yogurt provides plenty of  sugar and that the extra sugar really isn’t necessary.

The recipe makes two flat bread loaves which are about 2 inches high and 6 inches wide. They can be cut any way you like and would work wonderfully for sandwiches when cut in half. The texture is fantastic, light and fluffy, and they do not break apart or crumble when they are warm or have been cooled. I think they would also work well for sandwich bread or hamburger buns if they were formed into 4 smaller mounds. (You may have to adjust the cooking time though, so keep an eye on them.)

You can make it without the herbs and olive oil on top of course, or you could add other types of herbs if you like. I think it would be great sandwich bread with all types of fillings, or as an appetizer bread with olive tapenade, roasted peppers, a rich balsamic, and a nice olive oil.

Italian Flatbread

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees for conventional, 350 for convection

1/3 Cup Sorghum Flour

1/4 Cup Brown Rice Flour

1/2 Cup Tapioca Flour

1/2 Cup Potato Starch (not potato flour)

1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (my new favorite salt!)

1 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

2 Eggs

1 Tablespoon Sugar

2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter, melted

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Plain Yogurt

2 Tablespoons Water

1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Heaping Teaspoon Chopped Garlic

1 teaspoon Dried Basil

1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

1/2 teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, snipped

A Healthy Pinch of Kosher Salt

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Dairy Free Parmesan

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is a lemon color.

Add the yogurt, water, vinegar, and stir. Slowly add the melted butter whisking quickly.

Slowly fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture.

The batter will be sticky.

Divide the batter in half placing each mound on opposite sides of the lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, add the garlic, basil, oregano, rosemary, kosher salt, and olive oil and mix.

With damp hands (you may have to dampen them more than once), pat each flour mixture into a hamburger shaped mound. About 6 inches wide, brush with the olive oil mixture and sprinkle with dairy free parmesan.

Place the dough in a preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes (convection). If it begins to brown too quickly cover lightly with foil. The bread is done when it springs back when touched in the middle and is golden. Cool on rack.

This is about 10 minutes into the baking time. I was very excited to see it puffing up so nicely!

A perfect appetizer or snack bread.

Slices very well for sandwiches with no crumbling, dry, or grainy texture. Not to mention it’s gorgeous!

Beautiful enough for company and they won’t ever know they’re eating gluten and dairy free.

It’s All About The Bread

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People who have to go gluten free and/or dairy free are always pleased when they find a great recipe that they can prepare that is satisfying, delicious, and doesn’t make them sick for a week after eating it. Yep, three days to an entire week.  Those of us who are gluten sensitive, allergic to dairy, or have Celiac’s know the symptoms of being exposed to gluten and other allergens all too well, don’t we?

For me it’s joint pain, migraines, flu like symptoms, and extreme lethargy. Not even close to being worth going off the wagon and quite frankly, it can make you a little paranoid to eat other places besides your own home. I’ve been “glutened and dairyied” more times than I can count in restaurants and even at family and friend’s houses when they were sure the food was allergen free.

Because we have to eat to survive, and most of us enjoy eating and cooking, we’re always in search of allergen free recipes that our entire family can enjoy. Of course, all different types of recipes that allergy sufferers can eat and be happy with and that don’t make them ill are nice, but let’s just be realistic. For most of us who are gluten-free…

 It’s All About The Bread

Most people who are gluten-free are in a never ending search for the perfect bread. Perfect biscuits. Perfect buns. Perfect crackers. Perfect pizza dough. Perfect sandwich bread. Perfect sour dough bread…I think you get the idea.

What I have found is that as long as you are not looking for a gluten-free bread to taste EXACTLY like what you remember gluten bread tasting like, you’re going to be fine. It’s like wanting turkey bacon to taste like real bacon. Still great, but not the same.

I’ve tried many, many, gluten-free bread items. Some of them were shockingly terrible and others were surprisingly delicious. And surprisingly delicious is all I’m really looking for. I’m not looking to relive my gluten days, I just want gluten-free food, breads in particular, to be equally as great as any other food.

Over the next several weeks I’m going to be testing a lot of different types of bread recipes. I’m going to try some that are already gluten-free and many that are not and will need to be converted. I’m going to take you along with me and show you the good, the bad, and the ugly. Making gluten-free bread products is not always an easy task and I think it’s only fair that you get to see the work that goes into it. Even the failed recipes, instead of me baking for several weeks and only posting the ones that worked and turned out gorgeous.

So, over the next several weeks we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that we’ll have several new and delicious bread recipes to add to our weekly menus!

Happy and Patient Baking To You

~ April

**Pictures – eatocracy, glugleglutenfree, marketingandsalesguru, and pettysfinefoods

The Gray Weather Blues

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We’ve had a lot of gray weather this winter. We live in Washington, which everyone (who is not from here) automatically equates with rain – and maybe the Space Needle and Frasier, I don’t know. But not everyone in Washington lives in Seattle, of course.

We live on the east side of Washington, just about 10 minutes from the Washington/Idaho border. We have beautiful mountains, skiing, hiking, tons of lakes, and we are supposed to have all four seasons. Evidently mother nature misplaced her rule book this year. We are supposed to have white, beautiful, winters. Not gray, wet, and depressing winters like Seattle. No offense Seattle. I love to visit you in the spring and summer but would never make it through living an entire winter under a rain cloud. Or so I thought.

Soon, well maybe in two months or so, we’ll finally begin to get the first peek at spring. Unless it comes early, which I’m sure everyone in my neck of the woods would certainly welcome. But until then, I’ll just have to continue turning every light on in the house to fake the light of spring and mentally prepare my summer gardens with lots and lots of bright colors.

For now, this is the most colorful thing in our garden.

See?

It’s even too wet for my beautiful yellow finch birdies (my favorite) to come out and munch on their thistle. That feeder has been full for almost three days…

I’ve decided to chase away the winter blues today by going through cookbooks and misc. recipes that I’ve been “meaning to get to” over the past few months. Seems like time flies until it’s raining and cloudy and then everything slows way down and you feel like catching up on things you never have time to complete.

I’m kind of a recipe “aholic”. At one point I had close to 75 cookbooks stuffed and crammed  in my kitchen cupboards. Then, there’s the piles and files of torn out magazine recipes or other blog recipes that I run across that I hope at some point to convert to gluten-free and do a little experimenting with. The piles and piles of torn out recipes I try to keep in an organized file until I’m ready to use. Usually though, I end up with piles instead of filing them every time I run across one. Then, on days like today, the gray weather makes me feel like organizing and I sit down with a nice cup of hot lemon and honey water and file, file, file. I love going through them all over again, allowing them to fill my head with all kinds of exciting ideas!

I’ve whittled the cookbooks down a bit to about 30 of my favorites. They are now displayed lovingly in my new home office/craft room/reading room. 

 Abigail Grace is never far away.

She’s decided my new chair is now hers and likes to cuddle in it when I’m in the office. The other morning she wedged herself in right next to me while I was reading and kept sighing as if I was the one taking up all the room.

It took two weeks to go through all of my boxes and bins of craft things in the basement.

I purged quite a bit and now feel wonderfully organized. What you don’t see is the other half of the shelf and more bins in the top of the closet. A girl can’t get rid of all of her treasures…sheesh!

I love to wrap packages in pretty ribbons.

Still have several more bins and boxes to go through in the basement, but look what I ran across!

Did you grow up in the 70′s when it was fun to collect spoons? This is a jar full of spoons that we collected when we traveled and also spoons that my mom and grandma would bring me from their travels.

 I guess if anything, these gray weather blues are at least a form of motivation. I’m going to go through all of my cookbooks and recipes and dedicate a couple of weeks solely to testing and baking different types of gluten-free & dairy-free breads. Now that’s something to look forward to!

So stay tuned and I hope that if you’re also suffering from gray weather blues, that it sparks something creative in you.

~April


Tomato Salad with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Fresh Basil

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I found the cutest little organic tomatoes the other day at Trader Joe’s. I was also excited to run across white balsamic vinegar. I didn’t even know such a thing existed! It opens up a whole new wave of ideas where a dark balsamic can’t be used.

Trader Joe’s is new to our area. I have to admit I was a little disappointed with its tiny size and lack of a gluten-free aisle. I think I was secretly hoping for a Whole Foods experience. Whole Foods it’s not, however, their organic produce prices cannot be beat.  Now I make a trip up there just about every Friday to stock up on fresh, organic, veggies for the week ahead.

This is a simple salad that can be eaten alone or served as a side. I think it would go wonderfully with gluten-free focaccia bread with a little side of balsamic and olive oil…maybe some roasted garlic…

Tomato Salad with Sheep’s Milk Cheese and Fresh Basil

Organic Cherry Tomatoes (variety)

Sheep’s Milk Cheese

Fresh Basil

Olive Oil

White Balsamic

Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Slice some of the larger tomatoes in half. Tear a couple of basil leaves into small pieces, drizzle with olive oil and white balsamic, season with sea salt & pepper. Stir to combine. Crumble the sheep’s milk cheese and fold into the tomato mixture.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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I have to admit, I love Valentine’s Day. I love to bake and give gifts in cute little packages, I love the colors, I love the decorations, I love…LOVE. Kind of gross to some people, I know. But, there you have it. I’m a sap.

I made several goodies to give as gifts this year. I’m sure you’ve noticed, because your inbox is probably now packed with the recipes which I posted separately…

All of the goodies were new except for these Raspberry Pie Dough Cookies, which I’m pretty sure are the absolute best cookie on the planet. You can find the recipe HERE.

I spent all of yesterday and most of this morning in the kitchen baking, making candy, and wrapping everything up in fun little packages.

You can find the Orange & Sea Salt Chocolates HERE. And the Peanut Butter, Pretzel, & Cherry Chocolate Clusters HERE.

You can find the Clementine Buttercream Cupcakes HERE.

And of course these are the famous pie dough cookies…seriously, I know I have an unhealthy love affair with pie dough, but these really are the best cookies ever.

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether it was spent with a special lover or just with people you care about. And I certainly hope you celebrated with a bit of something sweet!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hugs and Kisses to You

~ April

Peanut Butter, Pretzel, & Cherry Chocolate Clusters

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Peanut Butter, Pretzel, & Cherry Chocolate Clusters

16 oz Dairy Free Semi-Sweet Chocolate

About 1 Cup Crushed Gluten Free Pretzels

1/2 Jar Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter

Dried Cherries (about 1/4 of a bag)

Paper Candy Cups

Line up the candy cups on a baking sheet. The baking sheet will be helpful when moving them outside or to your fridge to set.

Melt chocolate on medium low in a double boiler or fill a medium pan 1/3 with water and set a glass bowl on top. Once chocolate has melted completely, stir in peanut butter but not too much. You want it to be swirled throughout the chocolate. Gently fold in crushed pretzels, folding only until incorporated.

With a small spoon, fill candy cups just below the edge, about 3/4. Top with three cherries each.

Refrigerate chocolates for 20 minutes or until completely set up. Don’t leave them too long or the oils will separate and the chocolate will become cloudy.

Clementine Buttercream Cupcakes

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In case you haven’t noticed, now that I’ve figured out that I can make dairy free buttercream…I’m hooked. The options are endless and I plan on exercising all of them! (Enter maniacal laugh here.)

So bear with me, I’m sure to run across something else soon that will grab my attention and I’ll be off on that for a while. Like, I don’t know, maybe the perfect dairy free and gluten-free macaroni and cheese, maybe cheesecake, possibly even dairy free and gluten-free puff pastry. One can only dream…

Clementine Buttercream Cupcakes

1 15oz. Box Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

1/2 Cup Dairy Free Butter

2/3 Cup Water

3 Eggs

2 teaspoon Pure Orange Extract

Rind of  3 Clementines

3/4 Cup Dairy Free Butter

3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 teaspoons Pure Orange Extract

Rind of 2 Clementines

2 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Creamer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees for conventional 325 degrees for convection (I use convection)

For The Cake Batter:

Cream butter in a mixer on medium, scraping down once, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Add the cake mix, 2 teaspoons extract, rind of 3 clementines, and water. Mix on low for 30 seconds, scrape down bowl. Mix on medium for 2 minutes, scraping bowl at the 1 minute mark.

Line 12 muffin tins with paper and fill each muffin cup 3/4 of the way.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 19 minutes (convection)  or until the middles are just done. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before frosting on wire rack.

For The Buttercream:

Cream butter in a mixer on medium, scraping down sides once, until light and fluffy. Turn off mixer and add the powdered sugar, salt, rind of 2 clementines, and 2 teaspoons extract. Mix until it comes together, it will be lumpy.

Slowly add the creamer 1 teaspoon at a time while the mixer is on medium. Once all of the creamer has been added, mix for 1 minute.

Frost or pipe.

I piped mine, sprinkled with yellow sugar and topped with an orange chocolate that I made with leftover chocolate from my Orange & Sea Salt Chocolates recipe.