Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blueberry Oat Muffins by the Gluten-free Goddess

This is possibly the tastiest muffin I've ever had. Including all of the gluten-ful ones I had before being diagnosed. If you like hearty oats, delicious cinnamon and brown sugar, and blueberries, prepare to be blown away by these little treats. I have been wanting to try the recipe (which you can find by clicking here) from Karina (the Gluten-free Goddess) for a while now. Well, this morning, I went to the farmer's market and found an unbelievable deal on blueberries - 16 oz. packages for only $2.49 each. So I came right home, opened Mozilla to Karina's blog, and set to work mixing sorghum, cinnamon, brown sugar, oats, and fresh, ripe blueberries. Tempted as I usually am to eat a baked treat hot from the oven, I couldn't quite do it with these because they needed to cool for a little while to firm up. They were slightly fragile when I removed them from the pan, but they were solid enough by the time I had one. I still wouldn't necessarily expect to be able to grab one and eat it on the go, but that was fine by me! (**Note: if you refrigerate them, they hold up pretty well, and you would probably wouldn't need a plate.) You could try them with other berries, too - I'm guessing that raspberries, cherries, or apples would be delightful as well. These muffins have a wonderfully comforting combination of flavors, and I am constantly amazed by what alternatives to wheat and animal products can produce - a gluten-free, vegan muffin that tastes at least as delicious as anything you've had that contains gluten. I promise.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Namaste Carrot Spice Cake with "Buttercream" Icing

All I can say is, this is worth the $5.99 you'll spend for the mix. Worth every penny. This could not be easier to make - all you need are the normal cake mix side ingredients: eggs, oil, and water. And if you want to turn it into a carrot cake, all you have to do is shred or process a cup (or more) of carrots and toss them into the mix. You could do the same with shredded zucchini. I bet this would taste great with shredded or diced apples, too. If you like raisin, nuts, or coconut, throw some of those in. It's a very versatile cake mix, and I swear, everything I've tried from Namaste has come out absolutely perfect and has been a crowd-pleaser. I made this cake for my book club this weekend, and everyone loved it! You really can't tell that it's gluten- and dairy-free, and no one else will either, if you don't tell them. I'm putting the (very loose) recipe for the icing that I made below, and if you're a coconut fan, consider sprinkling some over the icing when you make it, perhaps along with just a little bit of cinnamon. But just buy this mix. Do it, now. You won't regret it.

"Butter""cream" Icing

1 8-oz. package Tofutti "Better than Cream Cheese"
1 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 - 2 cups powdered sugar (depending on your taste and desired consistency)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 - 3 tbsp. vanilla soy milk (or other vanilla non-dairy milk)
2 - 3 tbsp. tapioca starch or potato starch

Mix the Tofutti "cream cheese" and Earth Balance together first well, eliminating all the lumps. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, and then add the vanilla and soy milk to your own taste. Then add the tapioca starch (it doesn't clump too much, but you might want to sift it for consistency's sake) and mix very well together until you have a nice, smooth, and creamy mixture. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to let it thicken before spreading it on the cake. Sprinkle coconut over the top of the cake, if desired.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pasta with Garlic Tomatoes and Balsamic-roasted Asparagus

Only because of Soulard Farmer's Market could I have made this big pot of pasta by spending less than $2 for the non-staple ingredients. I love it. I got a huge bundle of asparagus and a small carton of cherry tomatoes, and mix that with a pantry stocked with spices, and it turned into a delicious and filling meal. I don't know why I was in the mood for asparagus, of all things; probably just because I happened to spot it right after I bought the tomatoes and the potential for a nice color contrast struck me all of a sudden. Well, it turned out to be a tasty decision, regardless. The freshness and simplicity bursts out of this dish. And if you didn't want to bother with the pasta or tomatoes, the asparagus by itself would be a tasty side dish with chicken.

Pasta with Garlic Tomatoes and Balsamic-roasted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, bottoms chopped off and chopped into1 1/2 inch pieces
4 tbsp. gluten-free balsamic vinegar, divided
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 carton cherry tomatoes (I think I had about 10 tomatoes), halved
1 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil flakes
1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
1 cup brown rice pasta (or gluten-free pasta of your choice)

Cook pasta as directed. If it gets done before the sauce, drain and cover with cold water to prevent it from becoming gummy. When you are ready to mix the sauce into the pasta, drain again.

Preheat the oven to 450 F and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the chopped asparagus, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, rosemary, parsley, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a bowl and toss to coat. Place the asparagus on the baking sheet and bake for about 5 - 8 minutes, stirring halfway through and keeping a close eye on it to prevent it from burning. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a sauté pan, melt the 1 1/2 tbsp. of Earth Balance Buttery Spread, and then add the minced garlic. Sauté together for 1 - 2 minutes, and then add the tomatoes and basil flakes. Cover and let heat for about 5 minutes, and then crush the tomatoes a bit with a spoon. Add the 2 remaining tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (more if you want a stronger taste of it), and salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Depending on your own taste, you could also add more rosemary and parsley as well. Continue to cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are falling apart and there is more of a sauce-like consistency. Add the roasted asparagus to the pan and stir, continuing to heat, until the entire mixture is well-coated with sauce and is hot. Add to the pasta and toss to coat.

If your pasta got done early and you were keeping it in cold water, return the pot to the heat just until heated through. If you have a good parmesan cheese substitute, you could serve it with this, but it will taste great on its own, too!

Coconut Almond-crusted Tilapia with Pineapple Coconut Rice

I am trying really hard to eat more fish, and really, to talk myself into having more of a taste for fish. At this point, I can feign interest in fish; appreciate what is coating the fish; and I enjoy the lightness of it. But I really want to develop more of a passion for fish. I meet so many people who are really passionate about their seafood, and I feel like I must really be missing out on something, as I sit in the dark corner eating my plain, ordinary chicken while everyone else is basking in the light of a delicious fillet of Mahi Mahi or some other fish I don't know anything about. So the other day at the grocery store (there aren't many days when I CAN'T refer to "yesterday at the grocery store," by the way - I go shopping for food entirely too often), I wandered into the seafood section and picked out a little bag of frozen tilapia fillets. This is what came of it. And please, if you do have any suggestions for me of what kinds of fish or seafood to try, and how to prepare it, leave a comment for me!!

Coconut and Almond-Crusted Tilapia with Pineapple Coconut Rice

For the rice:

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 small can of diced or chunky pineapple (~1/2 cup)
1/2 of 1 small can diced green chilies
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 5.5-oz can coconut milk

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until onion starts to become translucent, and add the can of diced pineapple and the 1/2 can (or more if you desire) of diced green chilies. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the 2 cups of water and the can of coconut milk, bring to a boil, and then add the rice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over reduced heat for 40 - 50 minutes, until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. You should be left with a slightly creamy rice dish.

For the tilapia:

2  4-oz. tilapia filets
1/2 cup ground almonds (hazelnuts or macadamia nuts would work very well, too)
2 tbsp. shredded coconut flakes (I used unsweetened)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg + 1 tsp. water or soy milk

Preheat the oven to 425 F or prepare a saute pan. Whisk the egg and water/soy milk together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the ground nuts, coconut, thyme, ginger, salt, and pepper. Take each filet and dip it first into the egg mixture, and then into the nut mixture, coating well and evenly. If you are baking the filets, place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. If you are sauteing them, place them in the prepared pan and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes, flipping them once or twice. Serve with the pineapple coconut rice.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another Flourless Chocolate Cake

I have to preface the recipe to this cake by telling you that hidden in the directions for this cake is an opportunity to burn the calories you'll take in by eating it. That's right. All you have to do is break your electric mixer, and you're on to calorie-burning heaven. It takes a lot of upper arm stamina to beat egg whites into stiff, foamy peaks by hand, and to beat egg yolks and sugar into a "light cream," so I'm confident that I can now eat at least one extra piece of cake with absolutely no guilt. This is a naturally gluten-free recipe for flourless chocolate cake - and it's a much simpler recipe than the one I posted here back in July. Not that that one wasn't heavenly, but if you're looking for a slightly quicker recipe, this might be a better option for you. The process reminded me a lot of the one for the pavlova I made, which was like a big macaroon/meringue, and while this cake was described as being "rich and dense," I found it to be refreshingly lighter that I had imagined. The flavors are not as complex as they are in other chocolate cakes that I've had, but this would still be a good cake to serve to company. It's a nice, solid recipe. It would be even more delicious and elegant-looking with a ganache topping drizzled over the top, or with a caramel or coffee-flavored drizzle. Feel free to improvise! **Update: I made this one again last week, and this time, I lined the bottom of the spring-form pan with sweet cherries and sprinkled them with brown sugar, and then poured the batter over it and baked for about 40 - 50 minutes, until a toothpick came out clean. When it was cooled, I drizzled a dark chocolate ganache and caramelized almond slivers over the top. See additions to recipe below.

Light Flourless Chocolate Cake

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used the Belgian chocolate from Trader Joe's)
3 tbsp. strong coffee
6 eggs, separated
2/3 cup + 6 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup almond flour (you can substitute hazelnut flour)
powdered sugar to top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a springform pan with olive oil or grease with shortening.

Brew a small cup of coffee and chop the 6 oz. chocolate. Place them in a bowl together and heat in the microwave for about 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until fully melted. Remove from the microwave and set aside to cool.

Separate the eggs into two bowls. Using an electric mixer (if you have one) or a whisk, beat the egg whites until they start to foam. Add the 6 tbsp. sugar in and beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Or until your arm feels like it will fall off. Set aside.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the 2/3 cups sugar until a light and creamy mixture forms. Add the salt and cooled chocolate, and then using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the mixture until well-mixed. Fold the almond flour in gently. Pour into the pan and bake for 30 - 38 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. I had to bake mine for about 38 minutes, and it was perfectly moist inside when it was done.

Let cool completely in spring-form pan on a wire rack before removing the sides of the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or a combination of powdered sugar and cocoa powder, or drizzle with caramel or a ganache topping and caramelized almonds (see below). Chill until ready to serve.

Optional Toppings:

Dairy-free Ganache Topping

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used Trader Joe's Pound Plus Bittersweet Chocolate)
1/2 - 3/4 cup vanilla soy or hemp milk, heated

Chop the chocolate into small chunks (so it will be easier for it to melt). Heat the soy or hemp milk in the microwave, and when it is hot enough, pour over the chocolate. Stir well, making sure to break up any lumps. Drizzle immediately over the cake and then top with caramelized almonds, if desired.

Caramelized Almond Slivers

1 cup slivered almonds
3 - 4 tbsp Earth Balance Buttery Spread
3 - 4 tbsp. brown sugar

Melt the buttery spread in a pan, then add the brown sugar and mix well. Add the almonds. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often. The brown sugar and buttery spread will start to get thick and bubble; continue to stir, but be very careful because it will burn quickly at this stage. Continue to heat for 1 - 3 more minutes, then remove from heat and spread out on a sheet of parchment paper or a plate to let cool. Break into smaller pieces once cooled, if desired.

Creamy Guacamole

Avocados were on sale this week at the grocery store, and since I am a total impulse buyer when it comes to food, I bought 2. They have been getting more and more mushy all week, and today I realized that it was now or never. So I made some guacamole to go with my chili (of which I have approximately one vat left), and it turned out great! The beauty of guacamole is that you can do everything to your own taste, which is what I did, and I think it turned out to be quite delicious.

Creamy Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/8 tsp. onion salt
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (optional - I didn't have any on hand, but I'd suggest using them)

Mash the avocados and mix until creamy, and then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Chill until ready to serve. Stir before serving.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

After two weeks of traveling and after this hectic week of getting back into the swing of things at home and work, I have been aching to cook myself a good, fresh meal. My tour guides in Israel were really great about ordering me gluten-free meals as we traveled around the country, but the meals were mostly either giant bowls of plain lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, or they were TV dinner-type meals with "certified gluten-free" written in Hebrew and Arabic across the top, which, while filling, were not particularly satisfying or wholesome. While I was very grateful for the attention that was paid to my diet, I have been craving something homemade and delicious ever since eating the first meal on the plane over. It has blisteringly cold all week in St. Louis, and I've had to spend all too much time outside, walking to work and class. I know, I know - we're babies. People who live in Minnesota are probably scoffing at Missourians, complaining about our "cold weather." Does it make it better if we're just not used to this kind of cold in Missouri?? Maybe not. But nonetheless, St. Louisans were collectively very chilly this week. Today I spent the morning inside, sipping my coffee and skyping with a dear friend who is many miles away, and what better way to cap off that kind of morning than with a steaming bowl of chili and a nice big piece of my favorite cornbread for lunch? I made the recipe for this chili up as I went along, and a lot of it was done to taste, which I would advise you to do as well. As I roamed the aisles of Trader Joe's last night, I picked up random cans of beans, an onion, ground turkey, and a little package of baby sweet potatoes with a vague plan to turn it into a huge pot of chili this weekend. Today I decided to get experimental with the spices, and I even added some chocolate and balsamic vinegar to add more depth to the flavor. It turned into a wonderfully thick and delicious chili, exactly what I was hoping for. This makes a huge pot, so be prepared either to share it or live off of it for several days! I will probably freeze several individual portions of it to bring out when I don't have time to cook a meal in the weeks to come.

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

1 lb. ground turkey (or vegan/vegetarian meat substitute)
1 medium red onion
2 - 4 cloves garlic
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz. can pinto beans
1 20-oz. can red kidney beans
1 15-oz. can white kidney beans
1 15-oz. can Cuban-style Black Beans (Trader Joe's brand)
4 -5 baby sweet potatoes or 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, diced into bite-sized pieces
2 - 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth (Trader Joe's brand)
2 - 3 tbsp. chili powder (to taste)
1/2 - 1 tsp. garlic salt
2 - 3 tsp. cumin (to taste)
1 tsp. oregano flakes
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 - 2 tsp. Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (to taste)
2 - 3 tsp. balsamic vinegar (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

optional: fresh avacado, sour cream, and salsa to garnish

Put the onion and ground turkey into a large pot and cook over medium-high heat until the turkey is cooked (or, if you are making the vegetarian/vegan version, until the meat substitute is heated through).  Drain the excess fat and add the tomatoes, all of the beans, the diced sweet potatoes, chicken broth, and spices, and stir well. Bring back to a soft boil and then reduce heat and cover. After it has cooked for about 20 minutes and the spices have had a chance to mingle, add the chocolate and balsamic vinegar to taste and continue to cook, covered, over medium-low heat for about 30 - 45 more minutes (I was baking sweet potato cornbread at the time, which partially dictated the cooking time for the chili, so just use your own judgment). Serve with fresh avacado, salsa, sour cream, if you like, and/or a nice thick slice of cornbread.