Blueberry Lemon Bread & An Early Morning Walk

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Good Morning!

Glazed Lemon Blueberry Bread is on the menu for breakfast this morning.

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I’m sure I’ve told you before how much my husband loves sweets. I’ve been trying to really reduce the sugar content in my diet since I’ve been having some health issues, which means he has had to suffer as well.

So this morning when Tony left to go on his morning run, I decided I would surprise him with a sweet bread.  What kind of wife would I be if I didn’t take pity on my poor, sugar loving, husband?

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For some reason on Saturday morning we were both filled with early morning energy and decided to hop out of bed and take the dogs for a walk.

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Red Winged Blackbird

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The Rindge/Jaffrey Rails to Trails trail has beauty at every turn.

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Everything was so calm the forest was a perfect mirrored reflection in one of the many ponds.

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Every time the Geese quacked, a little puff of breath floated through the air.

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Going for an early morning walk rather than an afternoon walk certainly paid off.

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For several weeks we’ve walked without my camera and every time I mentally pinched myself for not bringing it along. This time I made a point to remember, and was rewarded with the Great  Blue Heron.

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They usually fly away as soon as they see the dogs, but this one allowed me several shots before deciding he’d had enough. They’re so huge, it really is amazing to see them fly so gracefully.

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The walk was peaceful and beautiful, and the wildlife was stunning. They were extra patient with me and my camera, almost as if they knew I wanted a few last, very special, shots.

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We’ve seen almost every animal and water fowl  New Hampshire has to offer since we moved here with the exception of the Fisher Cat and Moose.

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And I can certainly live without seeing a Fisher Cat.

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I thought for sure with the presence of so many swampy areas that we would see at least one moose on our early morning trek, but no such luck. We have a couple of weeks before the moving company comes at the end of the month, maybe we’ll spot one before then.

Even the dogs were photogenic.

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The Bear made a visit the other night.

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It never crossed my mind that he would be interested in our bird feeders now that we have a fence.

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Silly me, bears aren’t worried about fences and only have one thing on their mind. Food.

There are big bear claw marks on a few of our trees along the back fence line. This one must be pretty light on his feet because he barely bent the thin wire fence as he climbed over.

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Luckily the vinyl fence was a quick fix, but we have yet to receive the bill, so it may not be a painless fix.

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Needless to say, all of the bird feeders have come down and have been packed away until we move back to an area where bears aren’t usually a worry.

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Plenty of exciting and beautiful things to miss when we leave New Hampshire, but the West also has a beauty all its own.

Getting excited to move in the direction of home!

Blueberry Lemon Bread with Lemon Glaze

2 1/2 Cups of Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

2 teaspoons of Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar

1 Cup of “Buttermilk” (1 cup almond milk with juice of 1/2 lemon)

3 Organic Eggs

1/2 Cup of Avocado Oil

4 teaspoons of Lemon Zest (about 2 lemons)

1 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 1/2 Cups of Organic Frozen Blueberries

Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk all of the wet ingredients together and add to dry ingredients. Fold until fully incorporated. Fold in the frozen blueberries. Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes. 

Lemon Glaze

1 Cup of Powdered Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Dairy Free Butter, melted

2 teaspoons of Freshly Grated Lemon Zest

2-3 Tablespoons of Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Whisk in bowl and drizzle over cooled bread.

Pumpkin Bread with Honey Cinnamon Butter

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Now is the time for us to start whittling down our pantry items. We’ll be heading out of New Hampshire in about 3 weeks or so if everything goes as planned.

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You may think it’s too late in the season for pumpkin bread, but once your house is bathed in the rich scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, you’ll change your mind.

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Spring has just arrived in New Hampshire. We were beginning to wonder if it would ever happen. We still have a bit of snow on the ground; this morning it’s foggy and raining. But this afternoon, we’re promised partly sunny skies and a high of 61 degrees. It’s only 44 right now and I already have the slider open in anticipation. Forty four degrees, fog, and a quiet drizzle is the perfect kind of morning to relax with a hot cup of tea and a slice (or two) of spicy pumpkin bread.

This pumpkin bread happens to be egg free, dairy free, gluten free, soy free, and nut free.

And it’s delicious.

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Pumpkin Bread

1/3 Cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 Cup dark brown sugar

2 Tablespoons ground flax plus 6 Tablespoons water (egg replacement)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 15oz. can organic pumpkin puree

2 Cups Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Place ingredients in mixer in order and mix on medium-low until fully incorporated. Spread into an oiled bread pan and bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.

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Honey Cinnamon Butter

The amounts will depend on how many people you are serving and your taste. I used about 6 Tablespoons of butter, about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of honey. Just add all ingredients to a small bowl and whip with a fork until combined.

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Multi Grain Gluten Free Bread

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Today is my Blogversary. Three years ago today I started Gluten Free Zen.

What better way to celebrate than with an excellent gluten-free bread?

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Gluten free has come a long way since I kicked it out of my diet several years ago. Remember what gluten-free bread was like? Ugh. That weird slippery feel when it went down your throat…lack of taste, crumbly texture…forget making a sandwich with it unless it was toasted, and even then it wouldn’t stay together.

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Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on store bought gluten-free bread these days. They even design bread machines with gluten-free features now! In fact, a few months ago, we bought one. How wonderful it is to have the house smell like freshly baked bread again.

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You can go here to read several different bread machine reviews.

I love this particular bread machine because it has a gluten-free setting. I don’t have to guess or do a lot of work or thinking to figure out how to use it. Which is after all, the purpose of having a bread machine right? I read all kinds of reviews on other machines where you have to start it on one cycle, move to another, yadda..yadda..yadda. No thank you.

In the Breadman, I add all the liquids, add the dry ingredients, shut the lid, and push the gluten-free cycle. After it’s mixed for a few minutes I help it along with a little stir, possibly add a couple more Tablespoons of water if I think it’s looking too dry, smooth out the top, and leave it alone for three hours. Maybe 15 minutes of my time, if even that, from start to finish. Easy!

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The payoff is well worth the tiny amount of time it takes to throw everything together. I believe I paid around $175.00 for it on Amazon. Worth every penny. And quite inexpensive if you compare it to how many loaves of gluten-free bread you buy at the grocery store every year.

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We typically go through about 1 loaf of gluten-free bread a week. That’s 48 loaves of bread a year (at least), and if they’re store bought, that adds up to almost $240.00 a year. And it’s not EVEN GOOD has very little nutrition, and good luck finding organic.

An initial investment in a good bread machine, organic healthy flours, grains, etc. will seem a little pricey, but it’s well worth it in the long run both financially and for your health.

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Multi Grain Gluten Free Bread

1 1/4 Cups of Sorghum Flour

1 Cup of Amaranth Flour

1/4 Cup of Quinoa Flour

1/2 Cup of Ground Flaxseed

1/4 Cup of Whole Grain Amaranth

1/2 Cup of Tapioca Starch

1 Tablespoon of Xanthan Gum

1 1/2 teaspoons of Bread Machine Yeast or Instant Yeast

1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 1/2 Cups of Warm Water (maybe a couple Tablespoons more)

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

2 Tablespoons of Avocado Oil

1 teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar

4 Eggs

Add all liquid ingredients to your bread machine. In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients and add to the liquid ingredients. Turn bread machine on gluten free setting. Allow it to stir for about 10 minutes, then open the lid and scrape the sides down with a spatula. At this point, I sometimes add a couple more Tablespoons of water if I think it is looking a little too dry. Close the lid and wait for the mixing cycle to finish. Smooth the top with a spatula (sometimes it forms a dome), close the lid and don’t open it again until it’s finished. 

Maple Nugget Cornbread

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Hello and Happy New Year!

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I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday. As you may remember, we drove clear across the United States to visit with my mom, our son, some of Tony’s family and celebrate Christmas. We were able to stay for 11 days and even squeezed in an overnight trip to Walla Walla, WA to visit with Tony’s sister and her family.

But the time just sped by much too quickly!

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I filled my mom “bank” with lots of Brandon time and hugs and kisses and as much following him around, sitting next to him, and talking as he would tolerate. Which he did very well, by the way. He was very patient with that weird mom need to drink your child in and imprint everything about them on your brain no matter how old they are. That mom account never stays full for long though when you live 2700 miles from your child.

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The trip was certainly an adventure. The drive was actually not that terrible on the way there. Of course, you’re always excited when you’re headed toward your vacation destination.

The drive there went very smoothly, unless you count the 1500 miles it took us to figure out the heater in the rental car.

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Honestly, who makes a car heater so complicated! We didn’t notice it was necessary until we left Chicago and started heading toward North Dakota. Once the temperature dipped below 5 degrees, we were freezing!

All through North Dakota and Montana the temperatures at night were well below zero so I was so thankful when I woke from a cat nap (who knows where we were) to find I was hot. Tony had spent the quiet time figuring out how to work the heater.

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Somehow he was able to figure out that the air conditioning button needed to be on in order for the heat to work.

We drove from our home in New Hampshire to Chicago, from Chicago to Billings, Montana, and from Billings to Spokane, Washington. The roads were pretty good and the total time for the trip to Washington state…43 hours of driving.

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Now the trip home, that was a different story.

I didn’t keep track of the driving hours. We, well I say we but I mean Tony, had to drive home in a blizzard.

A blizzard that was so scary that I kept my eyes closed or had my face buried in a book and my foot on my imaginary brake for at least 2,ooo miles. We went from Spokane to Bismark (944 miles around 2:00 AM) where it started snowing heavily and continued to snow throughout the night. The next morning (still snowing and 12 below zero) we packed up at the hotel and made it through the ongoing blizzard to Toledo, Ohio (1084 miles 2:30 AM), then from Toledo to home (701 miles 12:30 AM).

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On the way, there were cars off the road, semi trucks jack knifed and off the road, a few horrible car wrecks that were cause for immediate prayer for whomever was involved, a traffic jam that lasted an hour, and lots and lots of trying to pass semis and plow/sanding trucks in big clouds of billowing snow that made it impossible to see.

The most dangerous part of the blizzard started in Wisconsin and didn’t stop until we were parked in our garage. We came home to at least a foot of snow in the driveway. Needless to say, we were quite happy to arrive home safely, eat a piece of toast, and crawl into our own bed.  

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I’m sure I will be hard pressed to get Tony to do a trip like that again any time soon.

In fact I think when we finally got home, I may have heard out of his mouth the words…never again. 

However selfish it may sound, the only thing I cared about was filling up my mom bank account.

Which I did, so it was worth it!

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Maple Nugget Cornbread with Maple Butter

1 Gluten Free Pantry Yankee Cornbread & Muffin Mix

1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

1 1/3 Cups Almond Milk plus 2 Tablespoons of Fresh Lemon Juice (this makes “buttermilk”)

1 Large Egg

6 Tablespoons of Melted Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Maple Nuggets (You can call him here to order: 802-489-2286)

Dairy Free Butter (I use the Soy Free Earth Balance)

Extra Pure Maple Syrup

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Measure the almond milk in a glass measuring cup and add the lemon juice. Set aside. Pour the mix into a medium sized bowl. Add the maple syrup, egg, and melted coconut oil. Add the almond milk mixture. Pour and spread into an oiled 8×8 square baking dish. Sprinkle with the maple nuggets. I probably used about three Tablespoons.

Bake for 17-22 minutes. Do not over bake or the cornbread will be dry. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the Maple Butter: For two people I fork whisked about 3 Tablespoons of dairy free butter with about 1 Tablespoon of Pure Maple Syrup until it was combined. Then I spread it in a nice dish and drizzled with more maple syrup.

Top cornbread with the Maple Butter and drizzle with Pure Maple Syrup. Serve warm.

Dizzy Dinner Rolls

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After making it through a few ugly days of the flu last week, I woke up a couple of days ago with an even uglier illness…vertigo.

If you haven’t had it, I envy you and you should probably add “not getting vertigo” to your prayer list because it’s something you never want. If you have had it, well, my heart aches for you and you know exactly where I’m coming from.

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However, I have to tell you that I’ve had it two other times in the past, and because I caught it early this time, it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. With the help of anti-dizzy drugs I managed to walk the dogs today , make home-made soup to settle my stomach, and to make these extremely easy dinner rolls. I’m not a pill popper and I don’t like to take anything that makes me feel weird in any way, but I must say, thank God for vertigo medication. Without it, I wouldn’t even be able to stand to look at my computer screen, or get out of bed for that matter, and here I am making chicken soup and rolls for myself. Meclizine gets two thumbs up.

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Don’t burn your towel while raising the rolls like I did. We’ll chalk that one up to the drugs.

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I was quite happy this afternoon when I finally felt like things were taking a turn for the better. The ground stopped moving and my brain stopped feeling like it was on fire. And I was hungry! I had been trying to gag down toast, tea, and apple slices just to get something into my stomach, which has to be one of the most unsatisfying meals on earth.

No matter what sickness I may have, absolutely nothing tastes better to me than home-made chicken soup. They’ve actually done studies on how healing it is, even just smelling it.

You can find my organic chicken soup recipe here.

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And of course, who doesn’t love a good dinner roll? Those of you who live the gluten-free life know exactly how hard it is to find a dinner roll recipe that doesn’t turn out like a hockey puck or resemble that salt dough we used to make Christmas ornaments out of in kindergarten.

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Search no more because this is by far the best one I have ever tried. I could eat them every day. They smell like a yeasty dinner roll, look like a dinner roll, and amazingly enough…taste like a dinner roll.

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Guess where I found the recipe? Pinterest. And it uses my absolute favorite gluten-free flour blend, Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend.

I’ve been told by anti-Pinterest snobby snobs that, “Pinterest is a complete waste of time.”

I think not snobby snobs.

 I. Think. Not.

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You can find the recipe for these awesome rolls right here at Mygluten-freekitchen.com.

I use bread machine yeast and allow mine to rise for 1 hour and bake them about 5 minutes longer than the time listed.

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Soda Bread ~ Two Ways

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It’s still winter here…but I’ve made a pact with myself just like Miss C. over at The Kitchen’s Garden not to complain about it anymore.

With the weather being so…delightful…I’ve had some time to go through many of my cook books and food magazines. I think I’ve probably bookmarked at least 300 recipes to experiment with.

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The Dried Cherry & Walnut soda bread (on the left) is adapted from a new cook book I found on the book store’s discount table. (Hers called for raisins, allspice,  and is not GF or DF) It’s hot pink and called, “Baking Style – Art, Craft Recipes” by Lisa Yockelson. It’s kind of Martha Stewart-esque. Cool, somewhat fancy recipes, and a lot of tasty things that go well with tea or coffee. I’ve put a little sticky note next to 34 of her recipes that I want to try to de gluten and de dairy, so you’ll no doubt be hearing her name again in the future.

The Raisin & Cinnamon Soda Bread (on the right) with Cinnamon Maple Butter is a recipe that I created. It’s similar to any basic soda bread recipe you’ll find, but of course gluten-free and dairy-free with more moisture added. I like both of the recipes, but if you forced me to choose between the two, I would have to go with the Raisin & Cinnamon. It’s more moist and probably better as a breakfast bread or snack bread and of course… spread with the heavenly Cinnamon Maple Butter. The butter is probably what tipped the scales for me.

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The Mourning Doves like to keep an eye on me when I’m in the kitchen. Right now as I type this there are six of them on the deck along with several Dark Eyed Juncos, a big Black Bird with a blue neck, a Black Capped Chickadee, and a Red Winged Black Bird. I do enjoy the   birds!

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They aren’t the least bit disturbed by Chloe, either. That probably really irks her.

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Dried Cherry and Walnut Soda Bread

2 Cups Artisanal Flour Blend

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon Table Salt

3/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

3 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter

3/4 Cup “Buttermilk” (measure almond milk and add the juice of 1/2 lemon, let rest for 5 minutes)

1 Large Egg Yolk

1 1/4 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Dried Cherries

1/2 Cup Walnuts, roughly chopped

Raw Sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (I use convection).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar into a food processor (or a large bowl and whisk) and pulse a few times to mix.

Add the butter and pulse a few times to distribute. Empty the flour mixture into a large bowl and set aside. Measure the almond milk, add the lemon juice, and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and stir with a fork.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients (don’t stir yet!), add the dried cherries and chopped walnuts and fold with a spatula just until incorporated and all of the ingredients are wet.

Scoop out onto the parchment lined baking sheet and form lightly into a well domed shape. Sprinkle the top with raw sugar and with a sharp knife, cut a cross on the top of the bread.

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Bake for about 60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

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Delicious with tea or coffee.

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Raisin & Cinnamon Soda Bread with Cinnamon Maple Butter

3 Cups Artisanal Flour Blend

1 Cup Gluten Free Rolled Oats

4 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon

6 Tablespoons Dairy Free Butter

1 3/4 Cups “Buttermilk” (Measure almond milk, add the juice of 1/2 lemon and let rest for 5 minutes)

2 Eggs

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Zest of 2 Clementines

1 1/2 Cups Raisins

More Ground Cinnamon & Sugar For Sprinkling On Top

*Cinnamon Maple Butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (I use convection).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Measure the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sugar into a food processor (or a large bowl and whisk) and pulse a few times to mix.

Add the butter and pulse a few times to distribute. Empty the flour mixture into a large bowl and add the Clementine zest. Set aside. Measure the almond milk, add the lemon juice, and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir with a fork.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients (don’t stir yet!), add the raisins and fold with a spatula just until incorporated and all of the ingredients are wet. This batter will be much wetter than the Cherry & Walnut recipe above.

Scoop out onto the parchment lined baking sheet and form lightly into a well domed shape. Sprinkle the top with ground cinnamon and granulated sugar. With a sharp knife, cut a cross on the top of the bread.

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Bake for 70 minutes, remove from oven and allow to rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack.

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Slice, and serve warm with the Cinnamon Maple butter.

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Blueberry Raspberry Corn Muffins

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Good morning!

I have an incredibly easy breakfast for you today.

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Blueberry Raspberry Corn Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees/ Makes 15 Muffins

1 Package Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

2 Eggs

1 3/4 Cups Almond Milk

1 Cup Frozen Blueberries

3/4 Cup Frozen Raspberries

Raw Sugar

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Combine cornbread mix, eggs, and almond milk in a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Fold in blueberries and raspberries. Line muffin tin with papers and fill to top. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes.

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Wild Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Muffins

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IMG_0215[1]Well, it appears as if my camera issues are beyond my expertise. Really irritating. I’ve cleaned it, oiled it, and fiddled with all of the doo dads…and it still won’t take pictures. I’ve fixed it twice in the past, but I guess the inevitable has finally happened. I will have to pay someone a ridiculous amount of money to take my camera for a ridiculous period of time to get it back into shape. So until my camera is returned to me, I will have to live (and so will you) with pictures from my iPhone.

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Now that we’ve all come to grips with that…

I’ll give  you yet another reason why I love New Hampshire. It is full of quaint beautiful towns, as you’ve seen in my previous posts. And with quaint beautiful towns, come really interesting local and neighboring state goodies. The shops are full of locally made crafts, jewelry, homemade jams and jellies, maple syrup, goat’s milk caramel, local milk, eggs, cheese, and cream, furniture, hand-made soaps, lotions, candles, pottery, quilts, scarves…I could go on and on. I love that I can support my local community as well as the neighboring New England states when I shop. New England takes pride in its communities. You can see that by how beautifully the towns are maintained and decorated, by the genuine kindness of the people that inhabit them, and by the support that is given to local craftsmen, jewelers, and other crafting gurus.

While my mom and son were here visiting and we were out exploring, they wanted to check out a cheese shop in Brattleboro, Vermont. Something I don’t get all that excited about, because of course, if I ate the amount of cheese they consumed while perusing the cheese shop, I wouldn’t want to get out of bed for at least the following three days. But, as with most of the quaint shops in New England, there were plenty of other goodies for me to see.

This little 7 ounce jar of Wild Maine Blueberries (touted The Caviar of Maine), has added its delectable flavor to our  pancakes and the muffins I made this morning. It went a long way. It’s just beautiful, little blueberries in white grape juice. Nothing freaky added and no artificial sweeteners. Yum!

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I’m on a buckwheat and coconut oil kick. Have you done your research on both? The benefits of coconut oil are particularly amazing to me. If you haven’t already watched this video on the benefits of coconut oil for Alzheimer’s disease, please do so. It will leave you in awe. Truly amazing.

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According to organicfacts.net, coconut oil has all kinds of benefits. “The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and soothing properties.” Crazy, huh? And so simple to add to your diet.

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Did you know that buckwheat is a fruit seed? It’s related to rhubarb and sorrel. That of course, makes it gluten-free and a fantastic substitute if you and certain grains don’t get along. Not only can you bake with it, but you can eat it as a porridge as well. Something I wasn’t aware of until I researched the benefits.

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(buckwheat seed photo courtesy of smallbites.andybellatti.com)

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But there are also some other very interesting benefits of buckwheat. It’s high in manganese, magnesium, copper, and zinc. It also contains all 8 essential amino acids. It’s high in fiber and studies have shown that it slows down the rate of glucose absorption making it a healthy choice for people with diabetes and blood sugar issues. It has been shown to have significant cardiovascular benefits for post menopausal women, it helps prevent gall stones, breast cancer, and when you combine the whole “grain” benefits of buckwheat and fish oil, it’s been shown to be highly protective against childhood asthma.

When everyone decided that carbs and fats were bad for us and mass quantities of protein or even just living off of vegetables and raw foods were good, we didn’t take into consideration the benefits of certain grains and seeds and fats that would be missing from our diets. Carbs and many fats are not bad for you, in fact, according to the information above, they can be very beneficial.

Combine the benefits of buckwheat, coconut oil, a little protein, the benefits of banana (vitamin A, iron, phosphorous, potassium, high fiber), the benefits of blueberries (high in fiber, the highest in any fruit in antioxidants, and 1/4 of your daily need of vitamin C), and you have a pretty tasty and pretty healthy muffin. You could probably even replace the brown sugar with a grated apple or applesauce.

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Wild Blueberry Banana Buckwheat Muffins

Preheat convection oven to 350°

3 organic free range eggs

2 overripe organic bananas

3 Tablespoons wild blueberries

1 Cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 Cup organic coconut oil, melted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon organic cinnamon

1 1/2 Cups Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

1/2 Cup buckwheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Lightly mash the bananas ( I like mine chunky) in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and blueberries.

In another bowl add the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Whisk. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold with a spatula carefully until fully combined.

Fill muffin papers almost to the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 23-25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Chicken Tetrazzini

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I used to make turkey Tetrazzini every year with Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey leftovers. Of course that was prior to going gluten-free and dairy-free and those Tetrazzini dishes included a lot of cream and probably three kinds of lovely cheese, along with gluten bread crumbs.

Our mornings are chilly now and that always gets me thinking about comfort food. I love fall and even winter (as long as it snows a lot! Yes you read that right…) and I look forward to baking pies, roasting things, and having my house smell like comfort food.

I don’t even know what was on television in the bedroom this morning while I was getting ready, but I heard the word Tetrazzini and thought, “YES!”. I had forgotten all about Tetrazzini! When you’re allergic to dairy you kind of get used to not thinking about cheesy, creamy, delightful, comfort food. Luckily, with more and more people becoming aware of food allergies and more people being tested, the whole food world is opening up with new products and new ideas for those of us that can’t eat traditional things.

I couldn’t remember how I used to make it exactly so I Googled Tetrazzini. Honestly, what did we ever do without the internet? After reading through several recipes it all started coming back to me and I realized that each recipe was different. Really different. So I just winged it and did what I thought sounded good. Giada De Laurentiis puts peas in hers. I thought that sounded good too and I could have sworn I had frozen baby peas, but no such luck. Her recipe also had about 30 ingredients. Seriously?

I just went with what I had on hand and it was fantastic. Total comfort food. So creamy and delicious, even I was shocked! Ahhh… the satisfaction of another traditional meal tackled and made into something that can fit my needs! Remember the movie Bruce Almighty where Jim Carey says, “It’s goooood”? For some reason that just popped into my head. Odd the things that rattle around in there…

I love having a good (or “gooood”) challenge. This recipe was challenging because I didn’t know if it would really work. That always bugs me a little because it’s not cheap to be dairy free and gluten-free. If it doesn’t turn out, it’s horrible to watch all of that $$$ going straight into the trash bin. Plus, dairy free cheese is a little weird sometimes. Occasionally it can make the texture of something really unappealing. Also, there’s a lot of steps. I was taking pictures in between steps and different parts of the recipe and not cleaning up, so my kitchen looked like a bomb went off.  But as soon as I had everything in the oven, it all cleaned up quickly and believe me…all the steps and all the prep work to get it into the oven was worth every-single-bite.

Another recipe challenge overcome! Hmmm…what’s next?

Chicken Tetrazzini

Bacon Drippings, or olive oil if you don’t have drippings on hand

2 Chicken Breasts, cooked & cubed or shredded into large pieces

1 Medium Onion, diced

About 6 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

About 1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves

About 2 teaspoons Dried Thyme

1 Head of Roasted Garlic

About 1 Tablespoon Bragg’s Seasoning

About 1 Cup of White Wine

3 Cups of Almond Milk

About 2 Cups Gluten Free Chicken Broth

1 Cup Diaya Cheddar Style Cheese

1/4 Cup Buffalo Mozzarella

1/4 Cup Vegan Parmesan

Dairy Free Butter

About 1/3 Cup Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour

Gluten Free Bread Crumbs, seasoned with oregano, basil, garlic powder, vegan parm, & kosher salt

About 12 oz. of Tinkyada Gluten Free Pasta, cooked aldente

1.  In a large skillet melt about 2-4 Tablespoons of bacon drippings. Add chicken breasts and brown on both sides just until they are done. About 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

2.  Add the chopped onion and mushrooms and saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms begin to brown a bit. Add the thyme leaves. Add salt to taste.

3. Add the wine to de-glaze the pan and continue to saute over medium-high until the wine evaporates. Remove mixture to a large bowl. Set pan aside.

4. Dice or shred chicken and add to the bowl. Add the cheeses, roasted garlic, and Bragg’s.

5. Using the same pan, melt about 4 Tablespoons of dairy free butter. Add the flour and whisk together.

6.  Add the almond milk and chicken broth whisking quickly as to not allow lumps. Cook over medium-high until the mixture begins to thicken. Mine became very thick so I added a bit more chicken broth. You want a medium thick consistency. Salt & pepper to taste, add the dried thyme, set aside.

7. Cook pasta according to directions. I removed mine 2 minutes prior to “done”. Drain.

8.  Lightly coat a 9×11 baking dish with olive oil spray or dairy free butter.

9. Add the pasta and sauce to the large bowl of other ingredients. Toss well and pour into the baking dish.

10.  Coat the top with gluten-free bread crumbs (see below), and dot with butter.

11. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until sauce bubbles. Serve with gluten-free french bread.

* I always toast (in the oven) and throw all uneaten or stale bread into a bag in my freezer. It makes it very easy whip up bread crumbs or croutons when I need them.

For bread crumbs I just add the toasted bread to a food processor. Add dried herbs, kosher salt, and  just a bit of olive oil. Pulse until it turns into crumbs and the herbs are incorporated. For this recipe I added basil, oregano, garlic powder, kosher salt, vegan parmesan, and added a drizzle of olive oil at the end so it would all come together a bit.

Finally Time For a Home Cooked Meal

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Life has been absolutely crazy around here. Tony is traveling and changing time zones twice a week, and the house viewing traffic is picking up dramatically. That last part is a good thing, but it puts us in the position of having to be able to leave our house quickly. That makes it very hard to cook a real meal.

This is a very unhappy Chloe, stuck in a crate at my mom’s house while we wait for people to finish a walk through at our house. She’s not quite as happy as Romeo and Abigail to be at Grandma’s house.

I’ve been trying to make this dish since Thursday and finally on Sunday night, even though we were completely exhausted after having five viewings of our house over the past three days, I forced myself to make a decent dinner. Please forgive the pictures…I wasn’t going to even blog about it but Tony asked if I was taking pictures and was sweet enough to run upstairs and get my camera. The recipe will also be one of those “about this much” recipes, unfortunately. I didn’t write anything down, but you all are so smart and amazing in the kitchen, I know you won’t have any trouble making your own version.

Waiting at Grandma’s house for “kitty, kitty” the new kitten to come out and play with her. Penelope, my mother’s other cat is just around the corner growling and hissing at Chloe in the crate.

Lately we’ve been living on Jimmy John’s un-which sandwiches, black bean salad, gluten-free organic hot dogs and chili, cereal more cereal, peanut butter toast, and Red Robin’s California chicken sandwiches. Did you know they now carry gluten-free buns and will make your fries in a separate fryer from gluten items? We are addicted. Next time I eat one I’ll take a picture for you. And the tartar sauce (which is gluten-free & dairy free)…so delicious and addictive I should probably just be slathering it on my thighs because I’m sure that’s right where it goes after it leaves my mouth.

Tony stayed home an extra day today to take advantage of a motorcycle track day. The kind of track day that makes me cringe and I have to remind him that I really don’t want to know how fast he went and how many people had to be hauled off in an ambulance. He left early this morning, so this is what a lazy Sunday looks like for some of us…not me of course, I have a whole list of things to do!

Yes, we allow them to lounge on the furniture…

I’m used to cooking whole meals at least four days a week and baking something delicious at least twice a week. But lately, our new way of  living on “whatever is easy and doesn’t make the house smell weird” is getting to me. It’s leaving me feeling unsatisfied and rather unhealthy.

So last Wednesday while I was lying in bed wide awake at 2:30 in the morning because we’ve had a weird rash of car break-ins in our neighborhood, the recipe for Italian Sausage & Pesto Roll Ups was born. Maybe a little bit of fear does help with creativity? Or maybe it was the fact that I was sleeping with my gun and that enabled me to calm my mind enough to think about food. Either way, I also had to figure out when exactly I could find the time to actually make the recipe that was making my stomach growl and getting me excited for real food.

I tried Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to make this meal and it seemed like the dinner God’s were against me. And even though we had two more showings on Saturday, I managed to squeeze in a small nap and muster the energy to cook a nice meal on Saturday night, throwing caution to the wind and not caring if our house smelled like garlic and pesto on Sunday morning. I even managed to make an easy Kalamata olive & garlic loaf.

Italian Sausage & Pesto Roll-Ups

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees

About a pound of gluten-free, dairy-free Italian Sausage

Hot Pepper Flakes, I like my sausage spicy

Homemade Vegan Pesto

1 Large Block of Sheep’s Milk Cheese, I buy mine in the white and blue container at Trader Joe’s

About 2 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano

About 2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil

Freshly Ground Pepper

About 1/2 Cup Diaya Mozzarella Style Shreds

About 2 Tablespoons Dairy Free Parmesan Style Cheese

1 Jar Ready-Made Pasta Sauce, I used Newman’s Marinara, or homemade of course

1 Package Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles, cooked aldente (follow pkg instructions), rinsed, and separated immediately

Cook pasta, rinse, separate, and set aside. Fry the Italian sausage and pepper flakes (to your taste) until done, drain fat, set aside.

Drain the sheep’s cheese and place the entire block in a mixer. Add the fresh herbs, other two cheeses, and the fresh herbs. Mix on medium until it comes together and begins to look somewhat sticky. I was also going to add 1/2 cup chopped spinach to this mixture but forgot!

Oil a 9×9 inch square baking dish with olive oil. Spoon a small amount of sauce over the bottom of the dish. Set aside.

Lay out a lasagna noodle on your work surface. Spread either with a knife or the back of a spoon about 1 to 1/2 Tablespoons of the pesto along the entire noodle. Add about 2 Tablespoons (or so) of the cheese mixture to the end of the noodle nearest you, add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the sausage, and roll up, tucking in any filling that falls out of the sides as you go. Place the roll upright in the prepared pan. Continue until you have used all of your fillings.

Once the pan is full, pour the remaining sauce over the top, spreading with a spoon. Sprinkle with a little more of the mozzarella style cheese and the parmesan style cheese. Oil a piece of aluminum foil and cover.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes covered, remove foil, and bake for 10 more minutes.

Kalamata Olive & Garlic Loaf

With this recipe, I made two small plain loaves and 1 medium olive and garlic loaf. I simply separated the dough and took out the plain loaves first, then added the ingredients for the olive and garlic loaf.

1 Box Gluten Free Pantry French Bread Mix (make using directions on back of box)

Kalamata Olives, about 15 sliced in half lengthwise

Garlic Cloves, about 8 sliced in half lengthwise

About 1 1/2 Tablespoons Dried Oregano

1 Egg for Brushing

I wasn’t in the mood to run to the basement to fetch my french bread pan, so I simply lined a baking sheet with parchment paper. It works just fine, but the loaves spread out a bit.

Depending on how you want to separate the dough, do that part first, leaving the amount of dough that you want to use for the olive and garlic loaf in the mixer. Then, add the olives, garlic, and oregano and mix until combined.

Dollop and spread it on the baking sheet or in the french bread pan, brush with whisked egg, and cover with oiled plastic. Allow to rise for about 40 minutes in a warm place

Bake for about 30 minutes (I use convection). You may need to cover lightly with foil if it begins to brown too quickly.