All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

Mama's Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour

I cannot rave enough about this flour! Mama’s Almond Blend all purpose flour is made with a mixture of white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, sweet rice flour, and almond meal flour. This is my “go to” all purpose flour for baking, frying, dredging, and the number one flour I use when converting gluten recipes to non-gluten recipes. It has perfect texture, perfect flavor, and absolutely no weird after taste like a lot of other gluten-free all purpose flour mixes. I purchase mine at a local grocery store but if you’re unable to find it at yours, Gluten Free Mama has a website where you can check out all of her products and even try some of her gluten-free recipes. She also has a new cookbook out (her 2nd) and you can order products right from her website.

Sugar Cookies

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Frosted sugar cookies are by far my all time favorite cookie. I have a long list of cookies I love, but sugar cookies are always at the top in the #1 spot. You can eat them plain, or frost them, sprinkle them with sugar, or make them into little pockets filled with preserves, you can sandwich them together with luscious fillings, or cut them into a million different shapes and sizes, dip them in chocolate, or sprinkle them with toasted coconut, and give them as beautiful gifts. So much variety from one very tasty dough recipe.

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I was overjoyed when I figured out how to tweak my all time favorite Betty Crocker recipe and make it gluten-free and dairy free!

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Gluten Free/Dairy Free Sugar Cookie Dough

*Makes 64 3″ cookies

2/3 cup Dairy Free Butter

2/3 cup Spectrum Shortening

4 1/2 cups Mama’s Almond Blend All Purpose Gluten Free Flour, plus more for rolling

2 Eggs

1 1/2 Cups of Granulated Sugar

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1 1/2 tsp. of Xanthan Gum

2 tsp. of Pure Vanilla Extract

1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

Beat butter, shortening, and sugar in mixer on medium to high for 30 seconds until fluffy scraping down bowl once or twice. Add about half of the flour, the eggs,  baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and vanilla. Beat until thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour.

Divide dough in half and flatten to discs, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight before using, or freeze for later use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour surface where you’re going to roll out the dough. Let the dough warm up on the counter for about 15 minutes, 30 if it came out of the freezer. Roll out half of the dough at a time. Cut into desired shapes and place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes and let rest on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Decorate as desired when completely cooled.

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Fruity Chocolates With Sea Salt

When I realized I needed to go dairy free it didn’t take me long to understand that there would be no more “quick” chocolate fixes in my future. No more grabbing a chocolate bar at the grocery store or stopping by See’s Candies for a dark chocolate caramel or pecan log pieces when I felt the need to have a little sweet satisfaction. Unless of course I wanted to gnaw on a chunk of super dark chocolate, which isn’t quite what I was used to. Luckily, as time went by I was either introduced to dairy free chocolate choices from other people seeking the same thing, or through research online and searching the grocery store shelves was able to find some very tasty alternatives. I used Baker’s All Natural Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Squares for this recipe. I also keep a 5lb. bag of Enjoy Life dairy free miniature chocolate chips in my pantry. Living with food allergies can be frustrating I know, but if you’re willing to have a little patience and do a little research, well…it pays off in a big way. I am gluten and dairy free but there are very few things that I have to go without. Life is much too short to live without chocolate.

Fruity Chocolates With Sea Salt

24 oz. (3 pkgs.) Baker’s All Natural Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Squares

1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules

1/4 cup dried, wild blueberries

1/4 cup mixed dried berries, chopped (I used cherries, cranberries, and strawberries.)

1/4 cup gluten-free pretzels, lightly smashed

1/8 cup coarse sea salt

about 40 miniature candy paper cups

Measure out blueberries, chop mixed berries, crush pretzels, and unwrap chocolate squares.

Pour sea salt onto a small dish, place 40 candy wrappers on parchment paper.

Place chocolate squares in double broiler over medium-low heat. Add instant coffee granules.

Melt, stirring occasionally until smooth.

After chocolate is completely melted, slowly add the blueberries, chopped mixed berries, and pretzels, incorporating one at a time. Stir until completely combined and remove from heat.

With a teaspoon, carefully fill paper cups about 3/4 full. Stir the chocolate in the double broiler as you go so that you have an even amount of fruit and pretzels in each paper cup.

After the paper cups are filled, sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt. Allow to set.

Organic Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Homemade chicken soup. Doesn’t just the thought of sitting down with a steaming bowl and a warm roll with butter instantly relax you? Go ahead, close your eyes and imagine it. I’ll wait.

It doesn’t surprise me that several different Universities have done studies on the effects of chicken soup on cold and flu viruses. I mean really, how many of us were raised with mothers or grandmothers who believed that soup was the best possible thing for us when we were sick or tired from an endless week of Mondays? Scientific studies done at the University of Nebraska show that chicken soup is full of excellent nutrition and even has natural anti-inflammatory properties. They believe that chicken soup may actually trigger a cold and flu-fighting reaction in the body, that the steam helps to soothe your sinuses, and when someone you love prepares it for you, you get a therapeutic psychological boost that promotes healing. Wow, all that in a bowl of homemade chicken soup? I’ll take that over a flu shot any day.

Homemade Organic Chicken & Vegetable Soup

1 Whole Organic Free Range Chicken, rinsed, keep innards

3  32 oz. Boxes of Organic Free Range Chicken Broth (gluten free)

6 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Organic Sweet Onion, roughly chopped

1 cup Organic Sweet Onion, diced

3 Organic Carrots, roughly chopped

1 Cup Organic Carrots, sliced bite size

4 Organic Stalks of Celery, roughly chopped

1 Cup Organic Celery, sliced bite size

6 Organic Medium Size Red Potatoes, cut bite size

4 Organic Cloves of Garlic, whacked, peeled and left whole

4 Organic Cloves of Garlic, peeled and diced

10 Sprigs of Organic Thyme, left whole

6 Sprigs of Organic Thyme, leaves removed and saved

1 Sprig of Organic Rosemary, left whole

3 Leaves of Organic Sage, torn in half

3 Leaves of Organic Sage, chopped

2 Whole Organic Bay Leaves

Sea Salt & Pepper To Taste

For The Stock

Drizzle about 3 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a large stock pot, warm on medium-high heat. Add the roughly chopped onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Add the 10 sprigs of whole thyme, 1 sprig of whole rosemary, and 3 torn sage leaves. Saute just until the onions begin to turn translucent.

Next, add the whole chicken with parts (neck, liver, etc.), about 1 tsp. sea salt, 6 grinds of pepper, and 2 boxes of the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil, cover lightly with an opening, lower heat, and simmer slowly for 1 hour and a half. Simmering slowly stops the chicken from becoming overdone and tough.

Next, remove chicken carefully from broth and place in strainer over large bowl. Allow to cool about 15 minutes and remove chicken from bones, discard bones. Place chicken in bowl and set aside.

Pour broth from stock pot into strainer over large bowl, discard stock vegetables. Allow to cool slightly and skim some of the fat off of the top. Set aside.

For The Soup

Drizzle about 3 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large Dutch Oven over medium-high heat. Add the 1 cup diced onion, 1 cup sliced carrots, 1 cup sliced celery, and 4 diced garlic cloves. Saute until onions are translucent.

Add potatoes, thyme leaves, chopped sage, bay leaves, strained stock pot broth plus 1 more box of broth, and bring to a boil. Boil lightly until potatoes are fork tender.

Add chicken pieces, warm for 5 minutes and serve. The leftovers freeze very well. I like to freeze mine in individual sized containers.

Mama’s Pancake Mix

Mmm…pancakes slathered in butter (dairy free for me) and pure maple syrup, sprinkled with blueberries and walnuts. Definitely a delicious way to start the day. I’m still searching for the “perfect” dairy-free and gluten-free pancake mix, but so far, Mama’s Pancake Mix gets a thumbs up over all the others I’ve tried for flavor. I added vanilla to the batter this time for a little extra kick and it was quite nice. Probably my one complaint about all gluten-free and dairy-free pancake mixes is that they don’t get very fluffy and most of them are either too bread like or kind of slippery. Mama’s has a pretty good texture along with great flavor. I would recommend trying it, and then experiment to add your own flair. Next time I’m going to separate the eggs, beat the egg whites and fold them in. That might lend to a fluffier pancake.

Stuffed Cabbage With Roasted Potatoes and Root Vegetables

Mmm…cabbage, beef, spicy sausage in a rich tomato sauce. Potatoes, yams, and beets roasting in the oven with olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.  A comforting combination for a very chilly day. Sometimes, I simply cannot face another green salad. I long for hearty, “grandma-like” meals and to me, a green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar just does not fit into that category. Back in the day when I could eat dairy and slather my salad with blue cheese dressing, I was a lot more excited about eating my greens with every dinner. Now, I like to mix it up a bit and I’ve fallen in love with roasted vegetables. Roasting brings out their rich and deep flavors, giving them a completely different taste from steaming or sauteing. That earthy roasted flavor of the potatoes and root vegetables combined with the rich and spicy flavors of the stuffed cabbage is a taste explosion you won’t soon forget.

Cabbage Stuffing

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup spinach, chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup zucchini, diced

1 large head of cabbage, blanched with leaves separated (See Below)

1 1/2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped

1 Tbsp. thyme, chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

about 3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. of ground extra lean beef

1/2 lb. gluten-free, dairy free – hot Italian sausage

2 cups rice blend (I use Rice Select Royal Blend – Texamati, Brown, Wild, and Red Rice)

Prepare vegetables, garlic and herbs, meat, and set aside.

Prepare rice according to package instructions.I leave the butter and salt out because I like to control the flavor in the rest of the dish.You can always add to it but it’s very difficult to take away too much salt.

Pour olive oil in a large dutch oven and heat over medium-high. Add onions, peppers, ground beef, and sausage to hot oil. Saute until meat is done. Add garlic, herbs, spinach, and zucchini, cooking for about five minutes more, until zucchini is softened and spinach is wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. I used about a tsp. of sea salt and 7 or so grinds of pepper.

Stir in rice, remove mixture from dutch oven and place in bowl, leaving any browned tidbits and drippings, set bowl and dutch oven aside.

Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil for the head of cabbage. Once it boils, turn down to medium and place cabbage in the water. While you’re waiting for the cabbage to loosen, prepare the tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce

2 cans fire roasted tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine, Merlot is best

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 1/2 tsp. thyme

Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. Set aside.

Remove the leaves from the cabbage with tongs as it starts to soften, draining them on paper towels. You won’t end up using the entire head of cabbage. I probably used about 10 or 12 leaves.

Fill each leaf with 1/2 cup of filling, rolling the cabbage over the filling and tucking the ends. Place in dutch oven seam side down.

Place them tightly so that they don’t fall apart during simmering.

Add sauce, place back on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

While the cabbage is simmering, prepare the roasted potatoes and root vegetables.

Roasted Potatoes and Root Vegetables

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

6 medium red potatoes

1 medium yam

3 medium to large beets

about 6 Tbsp. olive oil

about 3 Tbsp. garlic, chopped

1/2 Tbsp. rosemary leaves

sea salt and pepper to taste

Quarter potatoes, peel yam and beets. Cut yam and beets the same size as the quartered potatoes.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil sprinkle garlic and rosemary over the top. Salt and pepper (be generous) and toss.

Roast for 1 hour, stirring twice during cooking until vegetables and potatoes are browned and fork tender.

Monday Morning Power Breakfast

Ahhh, Monday morning. A bittersweet beginning. Happy to greet the start of what will hopefully be a productive and joyful week, but longing for just one more relaxing Sunday. I have a Monday morning theory. I believe that if you start off with a little bit of your favorite music on the stereo (mine is classical music), a flavorful and visually appealing breakfast, and the smell of coffee brewing…it’s going to take some of the sting out of saying goodbye to a great weekend and get you off on the right foot.

Salmon & Spinach Scramble

serves 2

drizzle of olive oil

1 tsp. chopped garlic

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

4 eggs

splash of almond milk

1 cup cooked salmon

1 large handful of fresh spinach

Dice bell pepper, wash & dry spinach, chop garlic (I used organic chopped garlic in the jar) crumble salmon, and remove eggs from fridge.

Drizzle olive oil in non-stick pan, add garlic and red bell pepper. Saute on medium high until garlic is lightly browned and pepper is al dente.

Whisk eggs with almond milk. Pour over pepper and garlic mixture.

Cook until lightly set.

Add spinach, mixing into egg mixture carefully with spatula. Then, fold in crumbled salmon.

Cook about 2 minutes until eggs are set and spinach is wilted. Sea salt and pepper to taste.