Saturday Night Special – Hors d’ oeuvre & Cocktail Night

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We’ve dubbed Saturday nights our hors d’ oeuvre & cocktail night.

I make fun little meals that can be enjoyed in the backyard with our feet up.  We’ve worked hard to make our backyard our little sanctuary and once the nice weather arrives, we try to enjoy every second possible!

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

*Makes 20

1/2 Package Ground Italian Mild Sausage

1/4 Cup (heaping) Sweet Onion, diced

1/4 Cup (heaping) Red Bell Pepper, diced

1 teaspoon Garlic, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons Dried Basil

1/4 Cup Kalamata Olives, chopped

1 Tablespoon Vegan Parmesan plus more for topping

Parlick Fell Sheep’s Milk Cheese, crumbled for topping

20 Cremini Mushrooms, stem scooped out at base

In a large skillet on medium heat, saute the sausage, onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, and basil. When sausage is done add the 1 Tablespoon of vegan parmesan and the olives. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Place the mushrooms on a baking sheet lined with parchment, hole side up. Fill each mushroom with stuffing.

Crumble a little Parlick Fell on each mushroom and sprinkle with more vegan parmesan. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes.

Spinach Tart

*Makes 4 personal sized tarts

1 Portion of Gluten Free Pie Dough

10 oz Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed & drained

2 Cups Raw Spinach Leaves, packed

4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped

3 Tablespoons Dried Parsley

1 1/2 Tablespoons Dried Dill

1/4 Cup Sun Dried Tomatoes Packed in Oil, chopped

1/4 Cup Roasted Red Peppers, chopped

10 oz of Sheep’s Milk Feta

2 eggs

Roll out the chilled pie dough and fill each tart pan, press in, and trim edges.

Place remaining ingredients except the feta in a medium bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. Fold in the crumbled feta.

Fill each tart pan.

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 35 minutes or until the edges of the crust turn golden.

Sugar Plum Tomato & Cucumber Salad

Sugar Plum Tomatoes

English Cucumber, peeled and sliced

About 6 Basil leaves, torn

Ground Pepper

Olive Oil

White Balsamic Vinegar

Pinch of Kosher Salt

Place desired amount of tomatoes and cucumbers in a small bowl. Add the basil and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Season with ground pepper and kosher sat. Toss to combine.

Of course, no snack night would be complete without a cocktail or good wine and a delicious dessert.

My favorite wine from the Methow Valley.

Chocolate Mousse with Coconut Cream

*This recipe was adapted from the Black Dog Food Blog

(This recipe makes 4 – 1 cup servings. It is very rich and could easily be made into 8 – 1/2 cup servings)

24 oz of silken tofu, blended in food processor or Vitamix until very smooth

20 oz of Dark Belgian Chocolate, chopped & melted

1 1/2 teaspoons Espresso Powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

3 Tablespoons Raw Agave Syrup

2 Cans Full Fat Coconut Milk, refrigerated upside down overnight

Pure Vanilla Extract

Powdered Sugar

Raspberries & Apple Mint for garnish

Scrape the blended tofu into a medium-sized bowl. Add the melted chocolate, espresso powder, vanilla, salt, and agave. Whisk until thoroughly combined and very smooth. Set aside.

Remove the coconut cream from the fridge carefully as to not allow the coconut milk on the bottom to mix with the coconut that has settled on top. Remove the lids (which is actually the bottom of the can). Very carefully, scoop out the solid coconut cream stopping as you get close to the liquid and add to an electric mixer. Do this with both cans.

Pour 1/2 Cup of the clear coconut milk into the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Spoon chocolate mixture into dessert dishes.

To the solid coconut milk, add about 3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix on high with the whisk attachment, for about 2 minutes. It won’t get as firm as whipping cream made with cow’s milk, but it does set up a bit and will set up even more when refrigerated for a couple of hours.

Spoon the coconut cream on top of the chocolate. Garnish with raspberries and mint.

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

Pie Crust From Heaven

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OK, first let me explain to you how much I absolutely love pie crust. If left here by myself with a pie, I can easily eat the whole thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in two days flat. Pie is comfort food, plain and simple. Pie crust can be used in so many ways, only your imagination can limit you. When I figured out I needed to get gluten out of my diet one of my first thoughts was, “No pie?”. Well, life is too short to not have pie.  Oh, you can go to your local grocer and purchase their gluten-free, ready made crusts that taste like a mixture of cardboard, sand, and glue in a pinch. But if I told you this recipe makes four pie crusts that are deliciously flakey, scrumptious and you can freeze the dough to have it ready anytime, you would be crazy to settle for cardboard and glue.

This pie crust is my husband’s grandmother’s crust.  My mother in law was gracious enough to share the recipe with me (thank you Sandy!) and I was able with a little tweaking, to change it into a gluten-free crust.  I never had the opportunity to meet Margaret Wyttenhove, but I can only imagine after eating my mother in law’s cooking and my husband’s aunt’s cooking, that she was fabulous in the kitchen as well.  That’s the wonderful thing about recipes, you can hand them down generation after generation and be able to share a little bit of an experience with the person who created them, even if you didn’t have the opportunity to stand in their kitchen or sit at the table and enjoy a meal with them.

Wyttenhove Family Pie Crust

*makes four pie crusts

5 – 5 1/2 cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (plus more for turning out and rolling, it will be pretty wet when you turn it out of the bowl, don’t panic, it all comes together.)

4 tsp. xanthan gum

1 Tbsp. sea salt

1 1/2 Tbsps. sugar (if I’m using this for a savory recipe, I only add 1 Tbsp. of sugar)

1 lb. of All Vegetable Shortening (I use one of the small tubs of Crisco. I’ve tried the Spectrum and although it was fine, it just wasn’t the same.)

1 egg (beaten with fork in measuring cup and then filled to 1 cup with water)

Place 5 cups of Mama’s Almond Flour in large bowl.  I use the spoon in cup method and level with a knife.  Mama’s Almond Flour is very soft and dense, not dry and grainy like wheat flour.  I think if you used the scoop and scrape method it would pack into the measuring cup and you would end up with way too much flour and a dry crust. Add salt, sugar, xanthan gum, whisk to combine.  Next scoop 1 lb of all purpose shortening (I use Crisco) onto flour mixture.  I know it sounds like a crazy amount, don’t freak out!  Remember, this recipe makes 4 large pie crusts. You can also find Crisco alternatives at health food stores. Spectrum makes a palm oil shortening.

Work the shortening into dough with your hands, sifting through your fingers until the shortening is somewhat combined and the flour resembles small pea size (about) pieces.

Next, whisk 1 egg in a measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with water.

Add the egg and water in a well in the center of mixture. Work together with a fork just until mixed.

Scoop out onto floured ( Mama’s Almond Flour)  parchment paper.

Work it a little to form it into a smooth log.

Cut into four sections.

Pat into discs, wrap with plastic wrap and either freeze in freezer bags for use later or chill in fridge for same day or next day use. If you’re going to freeze the dough for use later, simply remove it from the freezer and put in the fridge the night before, or, thaw on counter for 20 minutes.

When rolling gluten free pie dough, be sure to start on floured parchment paper.  Gluten free dough is sticky and will need flour underneath it and flour on top of it as you are rolling it out.  I use the parchment paper to help me get it into the pie plate.  Sometimes, but not always, it even works to roll it up on your rolling pin like a regular gluten crust.  If it tears on you, don’t panic, you can start again or you can patch it by pinching the dough together in the pan, no one will ever know.  The top crust can be a bit more tricky but with a little practice, you’ll have a perfect pie crust in no time.