Monday, November 29, 2010

Gluten free pumpkin pie

First a HUGE thank you to Karina at Gluten Free Goddess.  She may have singlehandedly made my son's first wheat and dairy free Thanksgiving a success!  Let's face it, when you're 6 it's all about the pie.  You do not care how long your Momma slaved over the turkey, you want your pie.  And when you can no longer eat Mrs. Smith's without running the risk of an ear or sinus infection you do not care, you still want your pie.

Enter Karina and one of the simplest pie recipes I've ever used, vegan gluten free pumpkin pie!

I'll save you from reading all the nitty gritty details, because really you should go over to Karina's website and look around, prepare to be inspired, she's an amazing cook and quite the entertaining blogger, but I will say that this recipe took about 5 minutes to prepare and involved only two kitchen items, three if you count the oven.  I needed my food processor and a glass pie plate, well and measuring spoons but really, who counts those?  In the interest of full disclosure, I used coconut milk, full fat, and I did not have bourbon vanilla so I used my regular old vanilla.

Paulo gave the pie 10 thumbs up, he was a very happy child on Thanksgiving night!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

To brine or not to brine

To brine or not to brine, that is the question, do you brine?  Wet or dry?  I only recently read about a dry brining technique, I may try it next year, but I didn't have enough time.  It involves massaging a salted turkey over the course of three days.  I picked up by bird Tuesday night, I was curious about this technique but didn't allow for enough time so I stuck with my traditional wet brine method.

I love the results of a wet brine but man I hate the process!  I buy a big bird, this year's was 28 pounds, add to that a couple gallons of salted water and we have a seriously heavy pot to haul to the fridge in the garage, well Rene has a seriously heavy pot to haul around!

I use the following:
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • fresh herbs; sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano
  • garlic cloves
  • peppercorns
  • lots and lots of water
I brined for about 15 hours this year, shorter than previous years but I read recently that to over soak the bird can lead to a mushy textured meat.  And nobody wants mushy turkey. 

When I'm ready to roast I stuff a quartered lemon, a quartered apple and as much of a red onion as I can into the cavity and also add some more of the fresh herbs.  I pour olive oil on top and massage in some pepper and coarse sea salt and into the oven it goes.  This bad boy roasted for one hour at 425 and then another five or so at 325.  

Now, I will admit that gravy is my single most anxiety inducing step of hosting Thanksgiving dinner.  Gravy can make or break the don't mess it up!  No pressure huh?  This year I went a slightly different route with that in mind.  I laid out celery, red onion and carrots underneath the roasting pan and added the left over fresh herbs (not the ones from the brine!).  I added a cup or two of water and then put the bird in the oven.  About three hours into the roasting time I warmed up one cup of good pinot noir and added 1/2 dozen or so whole cloves to the wine while it warmed.  I basted the bird with the warm wine and then left it alone again for another hour.  Then I basted it again with the pan drippings.  When the bird was done I removed the roasting rack and put the drippings through a sieve, smashing the solid vegetables to extract as much juice as possible.  I made a slurry (just learned that word this year!) of GF flour and water, I used two tablespoons of flour, and whisked that into the pan drippings.  That's all I did, I did not have to add any more salt or pepper to the gravy, just whisk until thickened.  With all humility I can say it was the best gravy I've ever made, I was...surprised.  Seriously out of the whole meal, the gravy is what scares the heck out of me!  For the first time I was really happy with the end result, hopefully I can repeat the performance next pressure.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A tale of two cranberries

I grew up eating jelly cranberry sauce, from the can.  Even now I love to see the ridges that are molded into the cranberry when it is plopped onto a plate, makes me nostalgic.  However, my personal dining tastes have evolved a bit and I like to experiment in the kitchen so have not been satisfied with the jelly for years, each year I tweak my recipes.  This year, I made two different sauces for Thanksgiving dinner.  The first is my spicy cranberry sauce:

  • one bag of cranberries, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 serrano chiles, sliced (remove the seeds if you want less heat)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, stems removed
  • 1/2" ginger, grated
Add all the above into a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil, simmer until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens.  Chill overnight to allow the flavors to intensify.

The second is the sweet cranberry sauce:

  • one bag of cranberries, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 apple, peeled and cored
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
Add all the above into a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil, simmer until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens. Chill overnight to allow the flavors to intensify.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love, I will share a few more recipes from our day with you all this weekend!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What's for Lunch Wednesday

It's that time of the week again!  Time to see just what my 1st grader has been eating.  Time to link up with What's for Lunch Wednesday on the Bento Lunch blog and get inspired for lunches to come.

This is one of Paulo's lunches from his last week of school before the Thanksgiving break.  In here we have some sliced oranges and kabobs with carrot slices and green olives.  I also used a cookie cutter to shape a cucumber into a candy cane.  Interestingly enough...he ate it!  I guess he really will eat just about anything as long as it's cut cute!  The main compartment holds a new item I found at my local New Seasons market.  They are called Oregon Harvest Veggi Tots from Chez Gourmet from Marie.  To see what's in them click here!  I picked them up because they are vegetarian-which is a requirement from the lovely people that own the building we are renting for school, our lunches must not contain meat-and because they have no wheat in them!  It is really hard to find a vegetarian "meat" sub that does not contain wheat!  All the veggie nuggets I've seen use wheat in one way or another.  I have wheat free chicken nuggets but I can't send them to school!  Anyway, I was nervous frankly, there's lots of good healthy things in these that kids routinely turn their noses up at.  But Paulo, as usual, surprised me and LOVED them!  I will definitely be using these again when school starts up as a sandwich alternative.

For other great lunch box ideas visit What's for Lunch in Our House!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hummus spree!

I love hummus, I love to eat it plain, dip veggies in it, pita bread, use it in place of mayo...anything!  A lot of prepared hummus in the stores though have extra junk it them that I don't really want to consume.  Plus, when you look at the prize of garbanzo beans plus the other required ingredients, the premade hummus is really spendy! 

This week, I am enjoying two kinds of hummus, prepared by my own two hands.  The first is a raw cashew hummus from Karina at Gluten Free Goddess.  It is unbelievable!  I could seriously eat the whole batch in one sitting and not feel guilty....well maybe a little.

To a high powered blender add the following:
  • 1 cup soaked raw cashews, drained
  • 1 tablespoon raw organic tahini (I will admit to buying plain old tahini!)
  • Juice form 1 fresh lemon, or to taste (I used 1 1/2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (omitted from mine because I forgot to buy more!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • sea salt to taste
Blend on high until smooth and creamy, taste and adjust as needed.  If you want more "body" add more olive oil, if you like a stronger tahini taste, add an extra tablespoon of that.

Store in the fridge and serve with fresh vegetables, enjoy!  It's so good I eat it plain.

My second hummus chilling in my fridge is a lemon basil hummus.  To my Vita Mix (thanks DAD!!) I added the following:
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine, I used my pressure cooker and cooked them for about one hour)
  • 1/4 cup of the chickpea broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 1/2 lemon
  • Fresh basil leaves, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup whole leaves, I really love basil!
  • Sea salt to taste

Blend on high, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Chill in the fridge and enjoy with fresh vegetables or as a sandwich spread.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kitchen Sink Soup

We've all done it, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs at the grocery store.  We tossed leafy greens into our cart with reckless abandon, oblivious to the short shelf life of these super foods.  Personally I hate throwing money away and that's literally what we do when we toss away bags of spoiled fruit and vegetables into the garbage pail or compost bin.  One of my goals for the end of this year and into next is to stay on budget with my grocery bill.  I can accomplish that in two ways, one is to spend less-obviously!  The other is to use what I buy.  Enter soup!

Kitchen Sink Soup

It's been getting cold here in the Pacific Northwest!  Which makes it the perfect time of year to savor a nice bowl of homemade soup.  Which is also the perfect way to use up the extra veggies you (I) may have...over bought....

Olive oil
1/4 Red Onion
Garlic, three cloves, smashed and sliced thickly
Carrot, two, thickly sliced
Potato, two, sliced
Ginger root, 2" whole
Spinach, cleaned and removed from stem
Collard Greens, one bunch, removed from stem and sliced
Oyster mushrooms

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot and saute the onion until soft.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.  Add the carrots and potato, saute, add in the greens and ginger and fill the pot with filtered water.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Float the mushrooms on top and simmer until veggies are soft.  Check and adjust seasonings as needed.

Soup is very forgiving.  You can dress it up with exotic spices or keep it simple with just salt and pepper.  I floated 1/2 dozen whole peppercorns in the pot while it simmered, you can add any herbs you might have on hand as well.  It might seem easier to pop open a can of Campbells but there's nothing like a pot of soup simmering on the stove on a chilly night, and there is really nothing like knowing I'm not tossing my money into the trash pile.  It's a win-win for sure!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quinoa with vegetables

I love quinoa, it's a very nutritious grain and, as a total bonus, takes 15 minutes to cook!

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 cup edamame, shelled
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce (wheat free if you need that)
2 tablespoons Srirachi
1/2 lemon, juiced

Bring two cups of water to boil and add the quinoa, stir it once and then put the lid on and leave it alone.  After about 7 minutes, add the edamame and carrots, put the lid back.  When the quinoa is done cooking remove from the heat, add in the zucchini and leave with the lid on.  The residual heat will slightly steam the zucchini, I prefer it crunchy.

Combine the oil, soy sauce, srirachi and lemon juice, whisk well to combine.  Pour over the cooked quinoa and stir well to combine.

Satueed spinach with walnuts

Very quick side dish for a busy weeknight! I loved it, Paulo gave it a "so-so" rating, but at least he tried it and ate the walnuts.

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3 gloves garlic, sliced
Spinach, washed and stems removed, still damp (this would work with baby spinach as well)
walnuts, about 1/4 cup
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Heat the olive oil in the pan, about two tablespoons.  Add the red onion and saute until soft.  Add the garlic and cooking until fragrant, add in the walnuts.  Dump in the damp spinach and stir well, put the lid on and walk away for about two minutes.  Come back and sprinkle the whole bunch with balsamic vinegar, serve hot.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sicilian Collard Greens with pine nuts and raisins

Recipe from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

1 bunch collard greens
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Use a sharp knife to cut out the central rib and stem from each collard leaf.  Rinse the leaves in a sink of cool water, lifting them into a colander to drain a bit (you want some water to remain on the leaves).

Toast the pine nuts over medium heat in a dry skillet for about 5 minutes or until golden.  Shake the pan often to keep the pine nuts from burning.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Place the garlic and oil in a large skillet and saute over medium heat for 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the damp collards and stir, then cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Add the raisins and pine nuts and stir.  Cover and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar, cover, and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

This dish is AMAZING!  It combines the sweet from the raisins and the tang of the vinegar perfectly.  I think I could eat it daily and not get tired of it!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Noodles and "cheese"

Saying goodbye to macaroni and cheese was one of the hardest parts of Paulo's elimination diet.  He loves mac and cheese, I had switched to Annie's to reduce my feelings of guilt for feeding my child from a box but secretly I loved the good old Kraft as much as he did.  Kraft Mac and Cheese was one of the first things I learned to "cook" for myself as a child.  I remember standing in the kitchen of our apartment when I was in 5th grade, reading a book and stirring the pot of noodles.  I have very fond memories of that neon orange sauce and it's salty, tangy taste when I would eat it plain from the mixing bowl....good times....But with Paulo allergic to wheat and to cheese packaged mac is out of the question.  Annie's has a wheat free box but it still has dairy in it, so I decided to try to whip up something on my own.  The resulting sauce was good, Paulo declared it the best ever but really the boys has been deprived of mac and cheese since July so I think that might have influenced his taste buds, I still think it could use some tweaking.

3 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
2 tablespoons brown rice flour
2 cups plain almond milk
1 package Daiya cheddar
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 package quinoa pasta, cooked according to directions

Melt the butter in the pan, add the flour and whisk well to combine.  Stir in the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumping.  Bring to a simmer, stir in the Daiya and spices.  Add the cooked pasta and stir well to coat the noodles.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sauteed zucchini and radishes

2 zucchini, sliced thickly
6 radishes, sliced in half then quartered
3 cloves garlic, whole
teaspoon of olive oil

Heat olive oil in the pan, add the garlic and saute until fragrant, add the zucchini and radish tossing well, saute 2-3 minutes, add sea salt if desired.

I had read about sauteed radishes in Cooking Light or Rachel Ray, can't remember which.  Now I personally really love raw radishes but they are very strong, when you cook them it takes away a little of the pungency which made them easier for the kids to eat-I still don't think they liked them but at least they tried them!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Curry tofu salad

Paulo woke up really, really early Sunday morning-thank you time change!  The only benefit to that was turning on the Food Network and catching a bit of The Barefoot Contessa.  She was all about chicken Sunday morning, roasting it, making sandwiches from it and also a curried chicken salad.  I watched that and thought...that would be easy to make vegetarian!

Curry Tofu Salad:
1 small block of extra firm tofu
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup veganaise
1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon curry
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 cup raisins

Drain the tofu, I lined my colander with a paper towel, put the tofu in, covered it with a small plate and then weighed that down with a full tea kettle.  When it is drained well, slice it into bite sized pieces.

In a medium sized bowl add the veganaise and the juice from the lemon.  Mix in the spices, the celery and the onion and stir well.  Stir in the drained and sliced tofu and sprinkle with the raisins.  Cover and set aside in the refrigerator, I left mine over night so the tofu really tasted like the spices.  Serve stuffed in a pita bread or on a bed of cabbage leaves.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Roasted vegetables over lentils and rice with cranberry sauce

It's almost Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday.  Next week I will start experimenting with dishes I am interested in introducing to my table.  This week though I was craving cranberry sauce.  I decided to make a simple cranberry sauce to serve over grains and roasted vegetables.

Cranberry sauce:
1 cup cranberries, sorted and rinsed
1 orange
1/4 cup real maple

Put the cranberries into a pot, juice the orange and stir in the maple, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries pop and a thick sauce forms.  Set aside and keep warm.

Roasted vegetables over lentils and rice:
1/2 cup lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
2 yams, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 parsnips, sliced into 1/4" rounds
Broccoli, washed and cut into florets
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 leeks, thick chopped, whites and greens

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook the rice and lentils according to direction (I was fortunate in that the brown rice I'd bought needed about 25 minutes, as did the lentils, so I put them all in the same pot to cook together).

Set a steamer basket over a large pot of water, bring to boil, steam the yams, parsnips and broccoli until just barely tender.

On a large rimmed baking sheet lay out the vegetables in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt.  Roast in the preheated oven until potatoes are tender and the other vegetables develop a nice char, took me about 20 minutes. 

Serve the lentils and rice topped with the vegetables and the cranberry sauce.  Mmmm, cranberry sauce...tastes like Thanksgiving!

What's for lunch Wednesday

Time to visit Bento Lunch's What's for lunch Wednesday for inspiration! 

Here's Paulo's:
  • sunbutter and jelly sandwich on vegan buckwheat bread
  • apple slices
  • kettle chips
  • kebobs with green olives, cherry tomatoes and soy cheese
He was particularly impressed by the kebobs, eating anything on a stick apparently makes it so much more exciting!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tofu breakfast scramble

I've been secretly living my life as a vegetarian for the past 6 weeks.  It started as a challenge for myself with the hope of winning a prize.  October was Vegetarian Awareness month and I found a link on the Vegetarian Times facebook page for a pledge campaign.  You could pledge to be vegetarian for a day, a week or a month.  If you pledged you were entered to win a prize.  The prize for pledging, and completing, a month was $1,000.  That was very tempting.  I was already curious and open to the idea of being a vegetarian, I'd get a bit grossed out by raw meat and if I stopped to think about what I was biting in to, so I took the plunge and signed on for a month.  October is over, I didn't win any money, but I still haven't eaten meat and frankly, I'm a bit scared to now, I'm not quite sure how my stomach would react. 

Along the way I started and finished The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.  Great book, a lot of really useful information and a ton of fabulous vegan recipes.  I created this meal with inspiration from the book.

1 cup precooked brown rice,
1/2 cup extra firm tofu, I used my leftovers from a previous meal
mushrooms, chopped
zucchini, diced into 1/2 moons
onion, finely diced, as much or as little as you like
cherry tomatoes, halved
avocado, about 1/4 of a good sized avocado

Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onion.  When soft add the mushrooms and zucchini, the tofu and rice.  Heat through.  Remove from heat and add the tomato and avocado. 

This is a great way to get more grains and vegetables into your day, I ate this for breakfast but it could also easily be a satisfying light lunch or filling dinner if you want to add a side of greens either raw or sauteed.  It might sound odd to eat onion and zucchini for breakfast but this was a really tasty alternative to eggs and I was very full and felt energized and ready for my day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Vegan chocolate cookies

Mmmm chocolate... is there anything better? 

During Paulo's elimination period I spent a lot of time learning to cook and bake bread allergen free.  I honestly didn't worry too much about desserts and cookies.  It was summer, fresh fruit was abundant and we had coconut milk ice cream, so what more did we need?

Chocolate, we needed chocolate!  Well, at least I needed chocolate!  As luck would have it, Paulo's got my sweet tooth so he wholeheartedly agrees with my chocolate cookie baking and gave this recipe two happy thumbs up.

One of the blogs I frequent for cooking inspiration is Manifest Vegan.  By nature of the vegan part I'm guaranteed to find recipes that do not include eggs of dairy and many of them are also wheat free as an added bonus.  Before Halloween there was a recipe for chocolate brownie bats.  I knew right away I wanted to make them.  As luck would have it I had everything I needed already.  I finally got around to baking them on Halloween. 

I made two batches of the cookies in Halloween shapes, bats, skulls and pumpkins and then, then I got lazy.  I got tired of chilling and re rolling the dough.  Not wanting to waste all that chocolatey goodness I created the lovely morsel pictured below.  Thumbprint raspberry cookies.  I rolled bits of dough into a ball, smashed my thumb in there, dropped in a couple of dark chocolate chips and perched a fresh raspberry on top.  Into the oven they went and out came deliciousness!  

Pretty isn't it?

I will admit to some hesitation about learning to cook allergen free.  I grew up on eggs and milk in my cookies and the usual gluten filled flour.  Baking without those things can be tricky, some of my experiments have turned out great and some....well, they were nothing to write home about.  These cookies turned out great, crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle and full of chocolate flavor.  I will definately make them again and if you're close enough to dine with me over the holidays you just might end up eating them yourself!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Savory corn waffles and sauteed cabbage

I love breakfast for dinner!  Tonight I wanted something that would compliment a sauteed cabbage recipe I wanted to experiment with.  The cabbage would have some honey in it so I went for a savory corn waffle.  I stared with my basic corn pancake recipe and modified from there.

I used water instead of rice milk and I added an extra bit of corn meal for extra crunchiness!  I made the full recipe then divided it into three dishes, one for me, one for Paulo and one for Rene.  To each I added 2 tablespoons good grainy mustard.  To Paulo's I also added shredded soy cheese and diced ham.  To Rene's I added shredded mozzarella, diced ham and sliced pepperocinis.  To mine, I added just shredded soy cheese and pepperocinis.

The cabbage:
1/2 head of cabbage (I think mine was savoy, napa would work too)
2 apple
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries.

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan, set aside.

Core and thinly slice the cabbage, rinse in a colander and set aside.

Core and thinly slice the apples, set aside.

Combine the honey and vinegar.

Heat olive oil in a deep pan, add the cabbage and toss well.  Cover and allow to cook for a minute.  Add the onion and the honey/vinegar sauce, toss well to coat, cover the pot.  Finally add the cranberries and walnuts, taste and add salt if desired.

Cook the waffles and serve along side the sauteed cabbage.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Asian millet stir fry

Cook millet according to directions and set aside.

Prepare vegetables:
  • Two carrots, peeled and sliced thin on a diagonal
  • One small head of bok choy, thinly sliced, white and green separated
  • 1/4 onion, finely diced
  • Edamame, shelled-I used frozen
  • 6 mushrooms, quartered

Prepare marinade:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons bragg liquid amino (or soy sauce if you're not allergic to wheat)
  • 2 tablespoons chile sauce, I used sriracha
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1" fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons honey
Combine in a blender and blend until smooth and combined, taste and adjust as needed. 

To a steamer basket add the carrots and allow to steam for a couple of minutes then add in the edamame and the white portion of the bok choy. Steam until crisp tender. Set aside vegetables and drain the water. Add olive oil to the pan and add the onion, saute until tender. Add in the steamed vegetables and the fresh mushrooms.
When the vegetables are close to done pour 1/2 of the marinade into the pan and stir well to combine, add in the cooked millet and stir until the grains are coated with the sauce and mixed in well with the vegetables.  Add the green portion on the bok choy, remove from heat, and put the lid on your pan to lightly steam the bok choy.  Stir before serving and enjoy!