Friday, October 21, 2011

Low-fat Lemon Poppyseed Cupcake Muffins

I'm not sure precisely why I had a sudden craving for lemon poppyseed muffins today. Given the amount of candy I ate last night at the movies, there was no good reason to be craving anything sweet.  But suddenly it hit me, and I really, really wanted some.

Now, knowing my propensity to eat my way through more than my fair share of a regular batch of muffins, particularly mid-semester, I decided to use my handy ratio for cupcakes to make a neat little pack of 4.  And they turned out to be lovely!  I reduced the fat in these by even more than I originally had, substituting in some applesauce, and they ended up being moist and slightly denser than cupcakes. These are based on the original ratio for cupcakes, but turned out having the slightly more dense and healthy-feeling texture of muffins (and no icing!).  My compromise?  I'm calling them cupcake muffins. (Honestly, throwing the word "muffins" in there just makes me feel slightly better about eating four of them.)  Give these a try - you won't be disappointed!

Low-fat Lemon Poppyseed Cupcake Muffins
Makes 4 muffins

15 grams Earth Balance Buttery Spread
35 grams applesauce
50 grams white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh lemon rind (rind from ~1.5 small lemons)
20 grams potato starch
10 grams tapioca starch
30 grams sorghum flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter and mix with the applesauce, egg, vanilla, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon rind.  In a separate bowl, combine the potato starch, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds.  Stir into the wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour into the muffin tin liners and bake for 13 - 16 minutes, or just until they are slightly browned at the edges and spring back when you touch the tops lightly.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Oh my GOD were these good.  I scarfed down more of them than I honestly care to admit, although I did give a significant portion of them away, too.  So at least there's that.

Trader Joe's makes gluten-free oats now - did you know that?  I just discovered them recently - and not only are they certified gluten-free, they are also a lot cheaper than their competition - by several dollars.  AND they come with a recipe for oatmeal cookies on the back.  What more could you want from a bag of oats, celiac friends?

I modified the recipe quite a bit, of course.  I added a few different ingredients, reduced the fat, etc. (all my usual courses of action).  And they turned out to be fabulous - they were chewy, moist, and full of flavor.  Everyone who tried these loved them, and I suspect you will, too.

**Update: Since giving up sugar a few months ago, I also created a modified version of these that - in addition to being free of gluten and dairy - is also sugar-free. That modification is below!

Flourless Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen medium cookies

Regular version:
1.5 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/4 cup fig butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower butter or peanut butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups gluten-free oats
5 tbsp. unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
3/4 - 1 cup chocolate chips

Sugar-free version: 
1.5 tbsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/4 cup plain pumpkin puree
1/2 cup Stevia in the raw
1/2 cup nut butter (I used plain salted almond butter, but sunflower or peanut butter will do, too! Just be aware that many nut butters have added sugar)
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups gluten-free oats
1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
1/2 - 3/4 cup pecan pieces
**Chocolate chips are usually full of sugar, but if you find ones that aren't, add them back in by all means!

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whip together the Earth Balance, fig butter/pumpkin puree, and white and brown sugar/Stevia until well-mixed.  Add the egg and mix together well.  Add in the nut butter and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, and salt.  Stir them into the wet ingredients and mix well.  Add the extras (sunflower seeds, pecans, and/or chocolate chips) and stir in to combine.

Scoop the cookies out by the teaspoonful or tablespoonful onto the cookie sheets and space 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes (JUST until they start to brown on the edges), then remove from the oven.  They probably won't look completely done - that's ok.  Let them sit on the hot cookie sheet for another 3 - 5 minutes or until you can scrape them off onto a wire rack without their falling apart.  Cool completely, then store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Slow-roasted Cranberry-Apple Pulled Pork Tenderloin

This is a dish chock full of the fall flavors of cranberries and apples, and also full of the simplicity needed around this time of year, when everything seems to be happening 100 times faster than you think it should.  It's a recipe for a slow day - at least, a slow day for your crockpot.  While it's wonderful to be in the house to smell it turning into its wonderful self, this is one that will take you a mere 10 minutes (possibly less!) to throw together.  Then you can go out for the day, and when you come back, a dinner you'd swear had been slaved over is waiting for you.  The broth simmers with a depth of flavor that can only come with the kind of time your crockpot will be putting in for you with this one.  I didn't actually know this would turn into pulled pork until I opened the crockpot when I got home last night and found it to be so tender that it fell apart when I took a knife to it.  But what a lovely surprise!  I served this with mashed sweet potatoes with a little thyme and agave nectar stirred in and sauteed brussel sprouts with garlic, but you could also serve it in sandwiches if you'd like.  I cooked mine for so long (9 1/2 hours) that the broth had reduced and thickened enough for me on its own, but if you can only cook it for 6 - 8 hours, you can thicken the broth by simmering it with a cornstarch slurry (see recipe below).  I can't imagine this going over badly with anyone, unless they happen not to be fans of pork, of course.  And honestly - if they don't it?  That just means more for you.

Slow-roasted Cranapple Pulled Pork Tenderloin
Makes 3 - 5 servings

1 1-lb pork tenderloin
2 tsp. salt
1 jar Trader Joe's cranberry sauce (or a can of your favorite gluten-free cranberry sauce)
1/2 cup cranberry juice or cranberry cider
1/2 cup white sugar
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 large onion, cut into slivers
2 stalks celery, diced into large pieces

Salt the tenderloin and place it in the slow cooker.  Add the diced apples, onion, and celery.  In a small bowl, combine the cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, and sugar and pour over the ingredients in the crockpot.  Cook on "low" for 6 - 10 hours.  (I cooked mine for 9.5 hours and it was extremely tender.)  Lovely served with sweet potatoes, or you could make pulled pork sandwiches out of it as well.

To thicken the broth, combine 2 tsp. cornstarch with 2 tbsp. water and mix together until there are no lumps.  Place the broth in a small saucepan and add the cornstarch slurry, stirring constantly until it is thickened.  Remove from heat and serve over the pork tenderloin.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fajita Pizza with Cilantro Pesto Sauce

Why should anyone have to choose between Mexican and Italian?  It's unfair; they're both so delicious.  Confronted with the latest Ratio Rally challenge of pizza dough, I decided it was time for some nation-building and brought them together into one amazing dish.

I wish I could write more about this pizza; how it was crunchy and bursting with so many simple and strong flavors, and had enough taste on its own to defy a need for cheese.  Sadly, though, graduate school is sucking all of my free time away from me right now, so I'll just leave you with the recipe and this final thought:  make this.  It's a party in your mouth - seriously.

Thanks to Karen of Cooking Gluten Free for hosting this month's Ratio Rally!  See below the recipe for a list of the other participants and their creations.

Fajita Pizza with Cilantro Pesto Sauce

This works best if you make the pizza dough first, then make the cilantro pesto and slice the veggies and chicken while the dough rises.  Try to have the fajita ingredients ready to go before you put the dough in the oven so that it's all ready at roughly the same time.

For the dough (adapted from the Gluten-free Girl's Pizza Crust recipe)

2.2 oz cornstarch
2.2 oz. corn flour
1.1 oz. tapioca starch
2.2 oz. potato starch
1.1 oz. brown rice flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. warm water
2 tsp. honey
~1/4 cup cornmeal for dusting

Don't preheat the oven yet! Place the warm water, olive oil, honey, and yeast in a bowl and place somewhere warm until it's very frothy, roughly doubled in size.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.  With an electric mixer, beat the yeast mixture in until it is well mixed.  Sprinkle liberal amounts of brown rice flour onto a cutting board or countertop and place the dough on top.  Use more brown rice flour to work the dough into a soft ball with your hands, adding just enough to keep it from sticking.  Return to the bowl and place somewhere warm, covered with a towel or a greased piece of plastic wrap, for an hour, or until it doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.  This will turn out best if you preheat your pizza stone (if you have one) in the oven as well.

Take a fist-sized piece of dough and place on a large greased sheet of wax paper.  Fold the wax paper in half over the dough, then (using a rolling pin) smooth it into a very thin layer.  It doesn't have to be pretty - just try to make the thickness of the dough consistent.  Carefully peel back one side of the wax paper so the dough doesn't stick, then place the dough (exposed side down) on a piece of greased parchment paper.  Peel back the wax paper from the other side of the dough.  Sprinkle with cornmeal and place the parchment paper on the pizza stone.  Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until lightly browned - don't overcook!!

For the cilantro pesto sauce:
2 bunches of cilantro, washed and patted dry
~1/3 cup olive oil
~1/3 cup pine nuts or cashews
3 - 5 cloves of fresh garlic

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until very smooth.  Set aside.

For the fajita topping:
2 - 4 tbsp. olive oil
3 chicken breasts, sliced into strips
1 onion, sliced into slivers
1 red pepper, sliced into slivers
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. minced onion
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Saute the onion and red pepper in 1 - 2 tbsp. olive oil until blackened and tender.  Remove to a bowl, then add the other 2 tbsp. oil and saute the chicken strips until they are cooked through and blackened to your own taste.  When the chicken is done, add the pepper and onion back into the pan.

In a small bowl, combine all of the spices and the cornstarch together.  Add to the pan and stir to mix well, then add the 3/4 cup chicken broth.  Simmer until it thickens to your liking (I simmered mine for at least 7 - 10 minutes).

Compiling the pizza:

Spread a generous amount of cilantro pesto on each baked pizza crust, then top with the chicken fajitas.  Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and top with salsa, sour cream, or cheese to top if you like, but trust me, these are flavorful enough on their own. 

Be sure to check out what the other Ratio Rally folks put together:

Jenn of Jenn Cuisine made Moitié-Moitié Sausage Pizza
Meg of Gluten-Free Boulangerie made Pissaladière (Provençal flatbread w/ olives & anchovies)
TR of No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Teriyaki Chicken Pizza
Erin of The Sensitive Epicure made Stuffed Pizza Pie: Spinach, Mushrooms, Sausage
Charissa of Zest Bakery made sauteed onion and sausage grilled pizza with basil
Pete and Kelli of No Gluten, No Problem made Grilled Pizza
Mrs. R of Honey From Flinty Rocks made Pepperoni Pizza & Pineapple, Black Olive & Ham Pizza
Caneel of Mama Me Gluten Free made Pizza crust by ratio (choose your toppings)
Morri of Meals With Morri made Everything Peace Pretzels & Pizza Blanca
Meredith of Gluten Free Betty made Pizza
Gretchen of Kumquat made  Mozzarella Pizza with Pine Nuts, Currants & Arugula
Jean of GF Doctor Recipes made Pizza
Brooke of B & the Boy made Dessert Pizza
Karen of Cooking Gluten-Free! made GASP! Garlic, Artichoke,Sun-Dried Tomato, Pesto Pizza
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen made Rum Raisin Apple Pizza Pie, Gluten Free Dairy Free