Gluten Free Carrot Cake Mix

Simply Organic Carrot Cake Mix

I ran across this in the grocery store yesterday.The picture reminded me a little of the amazing carrot cake that my mom makes. Unfortunately, hers has gluten and dairy and I can’t indulge in it anymore. So I thought, what the heck? I’m going to try this, I’m not a major fan of pre-made mixes but I’m sure I can do something to doctor it up. There are also three different recipes on the box for different types of cakes and one recipe for bars, in case you get stuck or don’t feel like being adventurous. I added several things to this mix and made it into Carrot Cupcakes With Walnut & Ginger Frosting, which I had for breakfast with all natural uncured bacon. Oh yes, you’re reading this correctly…I had cupcakes and bacon for breakfast. And it was just as delicious as it sounds.

Carrot Cupcakes With Walnut & Ginger Topping

I love early Sunday mornings. For some reason, Sundays signify a special food day for us. When we were younger we used to go to my in-law’s every Sunday night for a family dinner and I loved it. I loved the routine, the family atmosphere, and especially the food. I like to make something sweet for breakfast with bacon on Sunday mornings and typically I make a large dinner with a special dessert as well. It’s comforting, a time for all of us to be together at once, a tradition, and a welcomed relief to our crazy-busy lives. Something that I hope our son will remember forever and will look forward to with his family someday. Confessions of a foodie “a-holic” and a somewhat sentimental sap, I suppose. I think it’s a wonderful way to end a week, a time to slow down, get together, and remember how blessed we are. It’s sunny and beautiful this morning, and I can’t think of a better day to have a carrot cake cupcake for breakfast.

(Makes 12 Unbelievably Moist & Delicious Cupcakes)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 Box Simply Organic Carrot Cake Mix

1/2 of a 15 oz. can of Organic Sweet Potato Puree

1/4 cup Organic Raisins, heaping

1/4 cup Sweetened Coconut

1/2 cup Shredded Organic Carrots

2 Large Organic Eggs

1/2 Cup Water

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/8 Cup Chopped Walnuts, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. of  Crystallized Ginger, finely chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting of your choice.

I used Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Cream Cheese frosting because it is gluten-free and dairy free. If you’re not dairy free you can easily make homemade cream cheese frosting with cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. You could also try the non-dairy cream cheese, it has a similar texture to cream cheese but I feel it lacks the cheesy flavor and tartness of the real cheese. If you’re worried about the partially hydrogenated oils, you could just simply do a vanilla frosting with powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla, and skip the cream cheese flavor.

Pour cake mix into medium glass bowl. Add sweet potato puree, raisins, coconut, shredded carrots, eggs, water, and olive oil. Stir just until combined and batter is evenly moist.

Next, line a muffin pan with cupcake papers, spray lightly with non-stick spray (I didn’t spray mine and they stuck to the paper a little). Fill with batter about 3/4 full.

Place in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, remove from muffin pan and place on cooling rack until completely cool.

Finely chop the nuts and crystallized ginger.

Frost with your choice of frosting and sprinkle lightly with walnuts and crystallized ginger. A little bit of ginger goes a long way, so remember to just sprinkle a tiny amount on each cake.

Gluten Free, Dairy Free Burritos!

Amy's Gluten Free Non-Dairy Burritos

Probably the number one complaint we heard from people who were told they had food allergies and needed to change their diet  when I worked in the Naturopath’s office was how inconvenient it was. I would have to agree. It makes it difficult to just grab something to eat when you’re on the go. I’m constantly in search of gluten-free and dairy free things to keep on hand for snacks or small meals when I don’t feel like preparing something. My cousin told me about Amy’s burritos and I have to admit, I was skeptical. A dairy free and gluten-free burrito? What the heck is in it? But I bought a couple of them anyway and was very pleasantly surprised. Great texture, great taste, and convenient! If you’re not dairy free she also has a variety of just gluten-free burritos. So far this is the only dairy free & gluten-free one that I’ve been able to find. And who really needs the added extra fat of cheese anyway, right?

Organic Hummus

Emerald Valley Organic Smoked Jalapeno & Garlic Hummus - Gluten & Dairy Free

I’m eating this hummus with rice crackers and celery right now as I type this…and it is good. Great in fact. I ran across it in my local grocery store in the health food cold section. The Smoked Jalapeño & Garlic on the label was what first caught my eye. Then I was even more excited to see that it was gluten-free, dairy free, and completely organic! I’ve tried a lot of  different  types of “main stream” hummus dips and although they taste great, and I can’t seem to find gluten as an ingredient…they give me gluten like symptoms. That isn’t the case with this product. And don’t let the smoked jalapeño scare you. It’s just enough to satisfy those of us who like hot and spicy foods but not enough to offend those of you with a more mild palette. Emerald Valley has several different dips. This is my first, if the others are even half as good as this one, I’m sure I’ll be stocking up.

Not Your Mama’s Sugar Cookie

Insomnia. As long as you don’t have anything of great importance to do the next day, it can actually be quite productive. I don’t suffer from it very often but when I do, I like to visualize my house re-decorated in different ways and create recipes in my head while I’m waiting to get back into the dream world. A couple of weeks ago when I had one of those sleepless nights, I was trying to think of all the different ways I could make a sugar cookie. This rich and decadent recipe was what I came up with. Dark and chocolately, kind of naughty…the black sheep in the family of sugar cookies.

Cherry & Sea Salt Double Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Makes about 28 2 1/2 in. cookies, give or take 1 or 2 testers

1/3 Cup Butter (I used Earth Balance Vegan Sticks)

1/3 Cup Shortening (I used Crisco)

2 Cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

1 Egg

3/4 Sugar

2 Tbsp. Chocolate Rice Milk

1 tsp. Instant Coffee Granules

1 tsp. Baking Powder

3/4 tsp. Xanthan Gum

1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

1 tsp. Vanilla

(See Frosting Recipe Below)

Cream margarine and shortening until completely combined and fluffy, scraping down once during process.

Dissolve the coffee granules in the 2 Tbsp. of chocolate rice milk.

Add about half of the flour, the egg, sugar, milk and coffee mixture, baking powder, xanthan gum,vanilla, and salt, to the creamed butter and shortening. Mix on low until the flour is incorporated and then beat until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add the remaining cup of flour and beat again until thoroughly combined, scraping down bowl once or twice during the process. Remove batter from bowl, form into disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

After the dough has chilled, remove from fridge and allow to sit on the counter for about 10 minutes. Flour your work surface with gluten-free flour. Working with 1/2 of the dough at a time, roll out to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

Cut into desired shapes and place on lined baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Allow to rest on sheets for a couple of minutes before transferring to cooling racks, allow to cool completely before frosting.

Rich & Decadent Chocolate Frosting

1 1/2 Cups Enjoy Life dairy free, gluten-free, miniature chocolate chips

1 tsp. Instant Coffee Granules, heaping

1/2 Cup Hot Water

1/2 Cup Dried Cherries, chopped small

Course Sea Salt

Place chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup. Sprinkle in the instant coffee granules and pour 1/2 cup hot water over chips and coffee granules. Let sit 5 minutes. Stir.

Microwave in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is smooth. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate.

Chop the cherries into small pieces. They will stick together but you can separate them with your fingers when you place them on the cookies.

Place a cooling rack over parchment paper, I used the parchment paper that I baked the cookies on, and lay cookies out on rack. Stirring the chocolate as you go along, frost each cookie with about a teaspoon of chocolate. Carefully spread around the cookie with the spoon.

Carefully separate the cherries with you fingers and drop a few on each cookie. Wait 10 minutes and sprinkle with a small amount of course sea salt. Allow frosting to set completely before storing.

It has been my experience that chocolate frosting or glaze does not freeze well. The fat solidifies and floats to the top, turning the cookies a speckled white. These cookies are to be enjoyed fresh.


Gluten Free Pasta

Tinkyada Spaghetti Style, Fettucini Style, and Spinach Spaghetti Style Pasta

I’ve tried several different types of gluten free pasta and so far the Tinkyada brand is the best. The texture is wonderful, there’s no after taste and most of their pastas are simply made with brown rice, rice bran, and water. Good for you too. Their pasta comes in all different shapes and sizes to fit every one of your pasta needs…even lasagna noodles. I’ve used Tinkyada’s pastas for numerous different recipes and I find that if I follow the cooking directions on the package and use plenty of water, I get a perfect al dente pasta every single time.

Steak & Shrimp Pasta with Roasted Asparagus

There are weeks when I have a menu planned that I’m excited about for every single night and then…there are weeks like this one. Today was one of those chilly, lazy, days where I didn’t even want to face going outside let alone going to the grocery store, again. Not knowing exactly what I would find in the freezer, I set out to see if I could come up with something edible for dinner. Way in the back I found one steak (One? There’s three of us, why would I only have one steak?) and a bag of frozen shrimp. Searching through the fridge I came up with a few veggies, grabbed some pasta from the pantry, and this is what I came up with. No going out in the cold, no schlepping through the grocery store. More time for me to work my way through the plate of sugar cookies on my counter and enjoy my new book…

Ingredients

1 – 16 0z. Ribeye Steak

1 Bag Medium Uncooked Shrimp (about 50 count)

About 10 – 12 oz. Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta, spaghetti style

2 Bunches of Asparagus

Olive Oil

4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped

4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped for asparagus

1/2 Sprig of Rosemary, leaves removed, chopped

1 Medium Sweet Onion, cut in half and sliced

1 Tsp. Thyme Leaves, heaping, chopped

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced

1 Cup Spinach Leaves, roughly chopped

About 3/4 cup Semi-Dry White Wine

About 2 Generous Tbsp. of Butter (I used dairy free)

Steak Seasoning

Sea Salt & Pepper

Peel shrimp removing tails and rinse. Set aside.

Season the steak with a bit of olive oil, sea salt & pepper, and steak seasoning. I used Chicago Chop and Steak Seasoning. Set aside. Pre-heat grill.

Slice the onion and pepper, chop garlic and herbs, and rough chop the spinach. Set aside. Place steak on grill and cook to your liking. I cooked mine medium-rare, probably more on the rare side. You don’t want it too done because you’ll add it to the hot shrimp mixture later and it will cook a bit. Once it’s off the grill set it aside to rest.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and prepare the asparagus by trimming the ends. Drizzle with olive oil and about 2 Tbsp. of chopped garlic. Sprinkle about 1/2 Tbsp. of sea salt and about 7 grinds of pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. While the asparagus is roasting, thinly slice the steak and set aside.

Drizzle olive oil in a skillet and saute onions and garlic on medium to medium-high heat until lightly golden. During this process, boil your pasta water. Cook pasta according to package directions (15-16 minutes) and drain.

Once the onion and garlic are a light golden color, add the red bell pepper and cook for 5 more minutes. Add shrimp, spinach, herbs, and season with about 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Saute until shrimp are almost cooked through.  Slide mixture to the side and add butter, scraping the bottom of the pan.

Next, add about 3/4 cup wine, de-glazing on medium-high until shrimp is cooked through. Remove from heat and add steak, tossing carefully.

Taste, season a bit more if necessary and serve over pasta with the asparagus on the side.