Saturday, February 27

Wintery Saturday Night

It's nine o'clock and I am snugly tucked into a cushy armchair, literally, body-wrapped in two down blankets and covered with multiple layers of clothing. I have been feeling a bit chilly of late and...I am thinking an electric blanket may be my next purchase. Observation: It seems I am drawn to this writing space when the weather has forced me indoors....and under many blankets! Yes, I agree. I would never survive a Montana or Minnesota winter. I acknowledge my weakness and surrender myself to the inevitable, an addiction to San Diego weather.
As I complain, I remember the tragedies that have occurred today and feel, well, ungrateful and dramatic. So, that ends my sob story regarding temperatures...

On to more exciting, of course, haha what else!? I have had two recent success in the everything-free category, as I like to call it. A mouthwatering muffin and a scrumptious cookie were my latest accomplishments. The muffins were a fresh idea this morning as I was laying in bed listening to the rain. I knew I wanted to bake , but not spend hours in the kitchen. So, naturally, my first go-to was muffins! I LOVE blueberry muffins and am always in the mood for a warm, tasty one. As I was pondering this goodness, I realized my usual recipe needed something...OATS. Gluten-free oats make everything 110% better, guaranteed. This novelty led me to my cupboard to pull out the necessities...but the actual attempt would have to wait until after my morning walk.

My second recipe followed the outline of a few other gluten-free suggestions, but I made it my own. Basically, I can't eat peanuts. Therefore, as you can guess, peanut butter is out of the question...sad. Thank heavens someone was thinking of me (right?) when they invented sunflower butter! Yes, I do know about almond butter, but it really is so different you truly can't compare it with peanut butter. Back to wonderful sunflower butter....I use to love peanut butter cookies and dreamt about recreating the deliciousness with my new substitute. Well, the day finally arrived! As I baked the first batch I realized there was no flour involved, but I thought I should try to follow a recipe for once...bad choice. Fortunately, with a small addition of soroghum flour to the rest of the dough I was able to save the batch. Oh goodness, were they saved! They were for the actual recipes!

{Blueberry Oat Muffins}
3/4 c of Pamela's baking flour
3/4 c of gluten-free oats...I'm really liking Bob's Red Mill, surprisingly...
1 large egg or egg
1/4 c of warm water
1/4 c of maple syrup grade A
1 tsp of vanilla
And as much cinnamon as you can handle

I mixed it all with a wooden spoon and poured it into the
pre-sprayed muffin tins. Then I stuck the frozen blueberries many as each could hold! I prefer Trader Joe's frozen blueberries to any other brand. They seem to be the ripest and closest to fresh berries, without the short lifespan. Bake these goodies for 18min at 350 degrees and you will see them brown perfectly. Enjoy!

{The Sunflower Cookies}
1 c of sunflower butter
1 c of sugar (cane sugar or light brown sugar) or I will be trying agave next time...
1/2 c of flour..I used
2 tbsp of honey
2 eggs or
1 tsp bourbon vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
Sprinkle of sea salt
1/2 c of semi-sweet chocolate chips...Trader Joe's

Mix it all ( wet first, then add in the dry and chocolate chips) with a wooden spoon. Roll the dough into little balls and place on foiled cookie sheet. Use a flour-dipped fork to press a tic-
tac-toe pattern onto the cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15min. Pull them out and let them cool. They will be fluffy at first, but will settle after a few minutes. Pair one with a glass of milk or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and your night will be complete.

Sweet rainy dreams everyone.

Wednesday, February 10

Carrot Raisin Muffins...

I made it to hump Wednesday and tonight I felt the desire to bake!

Lately, I have found a renewed fascination with a well-know vegetable, the Carrot! This vitamin E filled veggie is easy to grab for munching and has great texture for entrees and baked goodies. Confession, I have also been in a bit of a "muffin-phase" the two have formed a lovely merge and given me tonight's recipe.

Yep, it's just what you thought...right? Carrot raisin muffins!

1/2 cup of light olive oil
3/4c of honey or agave nectar
3 tsp of vanilla
2 eggs or same amount of egg-replacer
2c of Pamela's Ultimate Baking and Pancake Mix or regular flour
sprinkle of salt
2 1/2c of freshly grated carrots
1/4c of raisins... I should have put 3/4 cup*** optional!

I began by mixing all of the wet ingredients and then adding the dry, slowly. After the dough was well blended, I folded the carrots and raisins into the batter, filled my oiled muffin tins 3/4 full, and popped them into my pre-heated oven.

Baked at 35o degrees for 20-25min (your oven may vary :-)). The batch made 12 perfect, little muffins.

They turned out nicely, with a beautiful golden color and just the right amount of moistness. The only thing I wish I had done differently was (for the raisin lovers out there) add more of the raisins.

I really wanted to add pineapple and or coconut, but being the lovely, college student that I still am....I cook what's in the cupboard! So, be keeping an eye out for an attempt at a pineapple-coconut carrot or a pineapple-raisin carrot muffin recipe! Oh, gosh, can you imagine? Well, I hope you can enjoy this recipe for now :-).

Tuesday, February 9

Amidst the weather....

It's Tuesday night and Friday seems out of reach. With thundering rainstorms and a ridiculously cold, biting wind outside I am eager to put on comfy clothes and create a delicious meal of warm goodness. Again, I return to my old favorite...a saute. I decided to pull out the same tasty sausage I used in my Italian saute, but combine different veggies for a slightly different taste.

I chopped up (fresh): carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, and, of course the sausage. Sauteed them till they were just barely cooked (I like my veggies to be warm and slightly tender, but still have a bit of crunch left)

For the sauce: 3/4c of Marinera sauce, 1 1/2 TBSP of Agave, sprinkle of sea salt, pinch of fresh crushed garlic, basil and oregano.

Combined it all in the pan: letting the veggies absorb the sauce and the sausage brown a bit

To finish: I put it all over a slice of toasted rice bread.....again, delicious and inexpensive!

Try it and let me know what you think :-).

Thursday, February 4

Thank you Italy...

Last, but certainly not least, is an all time favorite dish...
I must pay respects to one of my favorite gluten free cooks...Katrina. Her blog gives me so many great ideas for my own recipes! This one is mainly a replication of her recipe, with a few tweaks of my own.

Chicken, Pesto, Goat Cheese Pizza Delight

TJ's grilled chicken strips
Goat Cheese
Amore Concentrated Pesto

1 package of dry, active Yeast
1 TBSP evaporated cane sugar
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each: dried basil, oregano, rosemary, and crushed red pepper (optional)
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1-2 teaspoon salt
1 scant teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 c of evaporated cane sugar
2 1/2 c of Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Flour

Instructions -
To begin I placed 1 cup warm water (following temp. directions on your yeast package),1 package dry, active yeast, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl and whisked it all together. I let it sit for 5-10 minutes allowing the yeast to proof and foam.
While the yeast worked, I combined everything except the flour in a large bowl. Once mixed, I add in the proofed yeast, followed by the flour. I attempted to mix the batter with my hands as Katrina recommended...I do not pass on this recommendation, needless to day I had batter all over the place and, well, I chose instead to use a spatula. Using it, I worked the dough into a ball for 2-3 minutes. I then sprayed my pizza stone with non-stick and sprinkled cornmeal on top of the pan..this helps keep it from getting stuck!

Finally, I dropped the dough with the aid of my spatula onto the stone. I wet my hands to flatten and spread the dough evenly, creating about a 1/4- 1/2 inch crust. Apparently this amount of dough will cover 10x13-inch baking pan, for those of you who do not own a pizza stone. Lastly, I lightly coated the dough with olive oil, to help it brown beautifully :-).

Once done with that, I pre-heated my oven to 425 degrees F. and baked the pizza for 10minutes. I pulled it out, spread as much pesto sauce as I could on it and then placed sliced goat cheese all over, followed by the strips of chicken.

It went back in the oven for another 10minutes, occasional checks found me meshing the melting cheese together, adding more cheese and sprinkling sea salt atop it all. Once the cheese began to bubble I pulled it out and let it cool.

The result...the best darn pizza I have had in more than a year!!!! Thank you Katrina!

Here's her link if your interested:

Saute, anyone...?

As promised....

Entree 2: A New Italian Saute be honest, if asked how I cook most meals my answer is almost always...saute.

Trader Joes Marinera Sauce
Apple Chicken Sausage
Agave Nectar
Sea Salt
Baby Mushrooms
Slice of bread...rice bread for me!
Ghee..or butter

Sauce pan
small bowl

I began by chopping my sausage, zuccini, and mushrooms. I tossed them into my sauce pan on medium heat with a splash of olive oil. In the small bowl I mixed the marinera sauce, a teaspoon or so of oregano and basil, a pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of agave nectar. Once my sauage and veggies were begining to brown I tossed the sauce in and kept it all moving as it heated and absorbed the flavors.

Last I toasted my bread and covered it thinly with ghee...clarified, caesin-free and lactose-free butter, you may use butter :-).

For the fabulous finish I put the toast in a shallow medium size bowl and poured the sauted goodness on top! Oh it was delicious! This one has earned a permanent spot in my weekly menu :-).

My food adventures....

Tonight I thought I would let you all in on a different side of myself. So, for those of you who do not know....I am gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, and supposedly, ha, dairy-free. No, I am not starving and, yes, I do miss oreos. I found out all this about a year and a half ago and ever since have attempted to find food that tastes good and, well, not like many of the "free" foods do. This has been an adventure, and as many of my friends can tell you, there have been good results and....

I am an independent college student attempting to eat well and not pay for it...literally :-).

Lately, I have a had a few successes! For some reason, I have had a few really, good turnouts lately and decided I should document them. It is encouraging to remember success, especially when the failures begin to add up!

They are all dinner entrees..since I really only have time to be creative in the evening!

Entree 1: Baked Sweetened Lemon Salmon

Ingredients -
1 Fillet of Alaskan Salmon
Agave Syrup
Sea Salt

small sauce pot
baking dish

First, I defrosted my frozen salmon fillet in warm way I have found to defrost things. I turned the oven on to about 325 and placed my sauce pot on low heat. I then poured about 1/4 c of the agave into the sauce pot to simmer while I sliced my lemon in half and "juiced" it with my metal spoon into the student remember :-). I sprinkled some salt in the mixture, stirring it continually as it began to bubble. Turning it off, I let the mixture cool.

I unwrapped my salmon and placed it in a ziplock baggie, pouring the cooled mixture in with it. I let the fillet marinate for about 30min, but for more flavor I would advise longer.

I sprayed my pan with non-stick and poured in the fillet and marinade. I tried to keep as much of the marinade on top, as well as around the fillet, as possible.

Slipping it into the preheated oven, I let it cook till there was a beautiful glaze and it was cooked all the way through...30mins? It came out a beautiful, deep pink and had a delicious, honey crisp on the outside. It fell apart beautifully and, yes, it really did melt in my mouth! I loved the balanced combination of sweetness and tart. It really gave salmon a whole new flavor for me!

I think I will put the other two recipes on separate posts...might be a bit easier to read :-).
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