Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

Can I confess something?  I've never actually eaten a garlic cheese biscuit from Red Lobster.  I know, I know.  They're supposed to be legendary - supposedly epic biscuits. 

These are pretty darn good, too, although I can't compare them to the original.  It was my first time to use the new gluten-free Bisquick mix, and rather than make pancakes, I dove straight in with biscuits, which I have not eaten in two and a half years.  The results?  Pretty tasty!  The mix uses rice flour and potato starch, so don't go into this thinking you'll get a whole grain biscuit.  But for the occasional dinner sidekick and a Red Lobster craving (if you enjoyed their biscuits in your former, glutenful life), they'll hit the spot.

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

2/3 cup Gluten-free Bisquick mix
2 tbsp. Spectrum Organic Shortening
4 tbsp. hemp milk (almond, whole grain, or soy would also work - try for a thicker kind)
1 egg
1½ tsp. garlic powder (more or less depending on your own taste)
1/3 cup Daiya Vegan Cheese (Mozzarella or Cheddar)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Place the Bisquick mix into a bowl and cut the shortening into it, using a fork to mash it into the dry mix until the mixture is reduced to small crumbs.  Add the hemp milk and the egg and mix well until the dough is smooth and soft.  Add the garlic powder and the Daiya cheese and stir to combine.

Line a cookie or other baking sheet with parchment paper.  Drop the dough onto the lined baking sheet by large spoonful (mine made 6 smaller biscuits).  Bake for 10 - 13 minutes for smaller biscuits, or 13 - 16 minutes for larger biscuits, or until they are golden brown on top.

Serve warm from the oven.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Decadently Chewy Granola Bars

Yes, that's right.  I'm going to call these decadent, even though they are also healthy.  I haven't had a lot of luck in the past with granola bar recipes, with the main problem being how they tend to fall apart right away, crumbling sadly into a chunky granola the moment I remove them from the pan.  Still delicious?  Yes - but not the point!  What I have wanted for so long is a healthy and convenient gluten-free snack on-the-go.  True, it's something that has become commercially easier to find in recent years, but the store-bought gluten-free granola bars leave a lot to be desired, in my opinion, between the slightly-off texture and more-than-slightly off taste, often evocative of cardboard.

These don't resemble cardboard.  Not even a little bit.  They're chewy, full of flavor, and you can tailor them to whatever ingredients you want and/or have on hand.  Don't have coconut?  No problem!  Add more oats or almond meal.  Don't like cranberries?  Add whatever fruit you DO like.  As long as you keep the basic ratio of dry ingredients to wet ingredient roughly the same, it shouldn't matter what you substitute here.  (Just try to avoid super absorbent flours like coconut flour without adjusting the liquid ingredients, too).  Get ready to snack!

Decadently Chewy Granola Bars

1 ¼ cups gluten-free oats (remove 1/3 cup to grind into oat flour)
½ cup buckwheat flakes (or substitute more oats if you don't have buckwheat flakes)
½ - ¾ cup sugar (I used a little less than 2/3 cup, but follow your own taste)
1 cup almond meal*
½ cup dried cranberries (or any other dried fruit)
½ cup coconut flakes**
1/3 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, sesame, and linseed)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup + 2 tsp. honey, agave, or maple syrup (I used half honey/half agave, but you can use all of one or the other)
¼ cup Sunbutter***
3 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
3 tbsp. applesauce (I used my homemade applesauce)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tbsp. water

*You can substitute another kind of nut meal, like hazelnut meal.
**If you hate coconut, substitute more almond meal or more fruit/nuts
***You can substitute any other kind of nutbutter here.

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper and coat with non-stick spray. (Warning: if you use wax paper, it will probably stick to your baked granola bars, so beware!)

Measure out the 1 1/4 cups oats first, and then remove 1/3 cup of them and grind them into oat flour (you can use your coffee grinder - I did!).  Place the oats and oat flour in a large bowl, and then add the rest of the dry ingredients, including the cinnamon and salt.  If you don't like cranberries and almond flour, don't worry - just add your own favorite nuts/seeds/dried fruits in the same amounts and you will be fine.  

Place the Sunbutter, honey/agave nectar, Earth Balance, applesauce, vanilla, and water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning, and when it comes to a simmer and everything has melted together, remove from heat and pour over the dry ingredients.  Mix well until all dry ingredients have been moistened.

Pour into the prepared pan and, using a spoon or your fingers, press down firmly and evenly into the pan.  Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the edges and top are browned.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting (if you can stand to wait that long).  When they are completely cooled, place them in the fridge for another hour or so before cutting them so they'll stick together even better.

Remove from fridge and cut into whatever shape your heart desires.  I cut mine into thirds, and then into sixths the other way, for slightly smaller bars.  Store in an airtight container and return to the fridge for maximum shelf life.

Roasted Red Pepper Mini-Meatloaves

I can't believe how well these turned out.  I have this habit of going grocery shopping without any real plan for what I want to make, which is a bit like going to a hardware store and buying a few nails and some wood and then coming home to draw up a blueprint.  But, you know what?  Sometimes that means you end up with something amazing that you never would have planned for.

These mini-meatloaves were born out of a perfect storm of leftovers.  2 lonely roasted red peppers left in a jar.  Some brown rice from the week before.  Half a pound of ground turkey.  Random condiments in the door of my fridge.  You might not think that could amount to much - but - it did.  These turned out to be so perfectly moist and full of wonderful flavor!  You can stick with eating them as meatloaves, or add a little more rice/oats and make them into meatballs to serve on top of some marinara-coated pasta.  You could even just cook this as a hamburger and put it into a gluten-free bun, topped with your favorite gluten-free (and/or vegan) cheese.  But no matter how you serve it, the flavor will win you over with the first bite. 

Roasted Red Pepper Mini-Meatloaves
Makes two mini-meatloaves.

1/2 lb ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup cooked brown or white rice (if you don't have rice, you can substitute gluten-free oats)
1 roasted red pepper, diced
1 1/2 tbsp. jam
3 tbsp. gluten-free barbecue sauce (Trader Joe's Kansas City Smokehouse is gluten-free)
3 tbsp. gluten-free marinara sauce (optional)
1 tsp. minced onion
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Spray two mini-loaf pans with cooking spray.

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well.  Spread into two mini loaf pans.  Bake for at least 40 minutes or until the meatloaves are cooked all the way through.  Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables, cornbread, or slice and make into a sandwich.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Roasted Acorn Squash with Apple-Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing

Don't let the length name of the recipe fool you.  This is actually pretty easy to make, as long as you have some time for the squash to roast.  And the end product?  It is so good.  So, so good.  I actually kept nipping away at the stuffing as it baked in the oven because it was so delicious, leaving me with a little less to actually stuff the acorn squash with.  So that's my warning to you, although I'm not saying don't eat along the way - I'm just saying, perhaps plan ahead and make a little extra stuffing specifically for the purpose of gnoshing.

I got the idea for this recipe on the Gluten-free Goddess's website, although my disclaimer is that I did not look at her recipe - only the picture - and went from there.  So I credit her for the idea for this fantastic bit of cooking - thanks, Karina! And since I still have quite a few of the Pumpkin Corn Muffins from last week in a freezer holding pattern, this was the perfect way to use some of them up.

The most contentious part of any Thanksgiving is arguably the stuffing.  Whose recipe is best?  I, of course, believe firmly that my mom's stuffing is the best in the world and would never consider another option for a moment.  So, I used my mom's stuffing recipe here - but if you feel the same way about your mom's recipe, go ahead and use it instead!  Just substitute the cornbread for the regular bread and you should be good to go.  This was a perfect pre-Thanksgiving dinner, full of harvest goodness and filling the house with familiar and comforting aromas. 

Roasted Acorn Squash with Apple-Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing

1 medium acorn squash, cut in half
3 tbsp. maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tbsp. brown sugar, divided
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped leeks (I used frozen chopped leeks from Trader Joe's)
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 large apple, peeled and diced
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of smoked or regular paprika (optional)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (optional)
1 tsp. dried parsley
Ground pepper and salt to taste
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 pumpkin corn muffins (or your favorite cornbread or corn muffins) - best to use ones that are a little dried out or which have been frozen

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Slice the acorn squash in half, scoop out all of the seeds, and place in a baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. brown sugar and drizzle with maple syrup.  Place in the oven to bake.

In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add the leeks, celery, and diced apple and cook over medium heat for at least 5 - 7 minutes. Add the spices, cranberries, and broth and continue to cook until the leeks and celery are quite tender and the broth has reduced by about half (about 7- 9 more minutes).

On a cutting board, chop up the corn muffins into small pieces and place them in a large bowl.  Pour the leek mixture over the cornbread and mix well, coating all pieces of cornbread with the liquid.  Pour into two small mini-loaf baking dishes and place in the oven with the acorn squash to bake.

Bake the cornbread for about 20 - 30 minutes (depending on your oven temperature) or until the edges start looking crispy.  Remove from oven and set aside until the acorn squash has finished baking.  It's done when a fork goes in easily and the flesh of the squash pulls apart easily.  If desired, you can baste the squash in the maple syrup/agave nectar as it bakes.

When the squash is done (and times will vary based on your oven temperature and the size of the squash), remove from the oven and stuff with the cornbread stuffing.  Place back into the oven for 5 - 10 minutes, or long enough for the whole thing to heat through again.  Drizzle a little more maple syrup over the top, if desired.  When the cornbread starts getting crispy again, remove from the oven.

Serve on its own as a delicious, hearty vegan meal, or as a side dish to turkey.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Vegan "Meat" Sauce

Spaghetti squash is kind of the best of both worlds.  You get the illusion of pasta with only 1/4 the calories, not to mention the extra vitamins and minerals.  While it takes a little longer to make than regular pasta, it's incredibly easy to prepare; all you have to do is cut it in half and stick it in the oven, and then - magically - the long, stringy pieces practically fall onto your plate in a twirled pile when it comes out of the oven about 40 minutes later.

But I can't take credit for the idea to make spaghetti squash this week.  A friend of mine was practically glowing with her recent first experience with it, and, inspired, I picked one up during my next visit to Trader Joe's.  It was definitely worth it.  Not only did it literally feed me for six meals, it was delicious, light, and remarkably like pasta (with a slightly different, but good, texture - and really wasn't terribly far off from some of the gluten-free pastas I've tried).  For the sauce in this recipe, I wanted to make something that was chock full of vegetables, so I basically pureed/grated what I had in my fridge and mixed it with some marinara sauce (the grated mushrooms give this sauce its "meaty" texture). 

Feel free to improvise - I definitely did, and it turned out deliciously.

Spaghetti Squash with Vegan "Meat" Sauce

1 spaghetti squash, sliced in half
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe's Tomato Basil Marinara)
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup mushrooms (I used baby portabellas)
1 roasted red pepper
Handful of fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1 - 2 tsp. minced garlic
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, and oregano to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
Daiya Vegan Cheese (or your favorite non-dairy cheese) to top

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Place the spaghetti squash in a pan lined with parchment or wax paper (to avoid sticking) with the rind up, and bake for 35 - 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the rind goes in easily.  Remove from oven, and set aside to cool (now with the rind side down).

In a food processor, place the carrots, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, and basil leaves and process until they have the consistency of being finely grated.  Place in a saucepan over medium-low heat with 1 - 2 tsp. minced garlic and saute for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring often.  You want to sweat the vegetables, not burn them! Add about 3/4 of the jar of marinara sauce to start with and stir well.  If you want a thinner sauce, add more; if you want a chunkier sauce, leave it the way it is.  Add the seasonings to your own taste and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Scoop out the "noodles" from the spaghetti squash and top with the sauce and Daiya Vegan Cheese, if desired.

Pumpkin Corn Muffins

What a perfect treat for an overcast, chilly November afternoon.  These are a breeze to throw together (assuming, that is, that you have gluten-free cornmeal on hand, which I did not), and they bake up perfectly moist and tender, yet not too crumbly.  I got this recipe from Jules Gluten-free blog and used hemp milk (because, really, what else do you use hemp milk for?) and added about 1 tsp. gluten-free vanilla, but otherwise followed her recipe exactly.  Mine did not turn out to be overly sweet like some corn muffins, so keep that in mind so you can adjust the sugar to your own taste if you prefer a sweeter corn muffin.  If you make them as muffins, and not cornbread, bake them for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  You can find it by clicking here.  So, go to her blog, grab your cornmeal, and get ready for some autumn deliciousness.