Sunday, December 30, 2012

Product Plug: Jessica's Natural Gluten-free Granola

I don't often promote products on my site, but I recently came across something that made me so excited that I had to share it with you all.

And that something is this:

This. Granola. Is. Amazing. And because I start every single morning with a bowl of granola, I've tried my fair share of different brands of gluten-free granola over the last five years.

It harkens back to my pre-celiac days (which can also be referred to as "The Days of Bulk Bin Purchases") when I would go to my local natural food store and buy perfect and delicious granola in bulk. It was crunchy and sweet, with big chunks of honey-soaked oats and nuts - the kind of granola that (and this may be a weird way to describe something I just called "crunchy") just melts in your mouth. It's the kind of granola that I have only tasted in memory since going gluten-free over four and a half years ago, despite many attempts on my part to recreate it in my own kitchen.

Until now, that is. To me, this granola tastes exactly like the amazing bulk bin granola of my gluten-ful days. It's both dairy- and gluten-free and is made with certified gluten-free oats. And there are five different flavors to choose from - so far, I've had the Pecan Almond, Vanilla Maple, and Chocolate Chip and have been equally (that is to say, VERY) impressed with all three.

And just as a disclaimer, I stumbled across this granola quite on my own at Whole Foods in St. Louis during a holiday visit to see my family, so I wasn't solicited by the company to write a review. I have never seen this brand in Massachusetts (which is part of why I pounced on it in St. Louis and bought more bags than I could possibly have eaten during a 9-day visit). But I did find that you can buy in bulk from Jessica's Natural Foods' website and she will Fedex your order to you in just a few days for a flat fee of $5. You might even get a handwritten "thank you" on your invoice. And! If you purchase online, she'll send you 2 free bags of granola when you buy 6, making the unit price of each bag about a dollar less than what you'd find in the store (and that's factoring in the shipping cost). Totally worth it. I ordered mine on Wednesday night and it was already here on Saturday morning.

So, you know, it's up to you. But I'm just saying - if you miss granola since being diagnosed and have been disappointed by the gluten-free versions you've tried so far, I think you will love this. And I think you'll be glad you bought in bulk once you taste it. (I'm a little afraid of how quickly I will be out of granola, to be honest.)

To find out more and/or place an order, visit Jessica's Natural Foods website here. Also, to see another review and read a short Q&A with Jessica, click here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Airy Mexican Wedding Cookies

I'm a pretty predictable person, in an almost mathematical way. Overcast afternoon + pressing deadline for work or school = I will definitely be baking something. Sometimes all I really need is the pressing deadline for work or school. #masterprocrastinator

Some of the omissions in this cookie recipe may make you skeptical. No eggs? Only 2 tbsp. sugar for the entire batch of cookie dough? Add to that the fact that I decided to cut the fat down by substituting applesauce and vegan cream cheese for some of the butter, and it really makes you wonder how it could still end up being a cookie-like creation.

I know. Me too.

But trust me - these are anything but skimpy. They are light and tender and wonderfully full of vanilla, with a lovely little crunch from the pecans. Just be careful when you're eating them, as the powdered sugar may or may not explode all over your clothes when you take a bite. (Some of my friends avoided this quite deftly by just popping the whole thing into their mouth at once. have options.)

And the best part is that these take almost no time to throw together. The dough comes together in a matter of minutes, and they will be melting in your mouth before you know it.

Gluten-free Mexican Wedding Cookies (Adapted from this recipe)
Makes 20 - 24 small cookies

3 tbsp. Earth Balance butter stick
3 tbsp. vegan cream cheese
2 tbsp. smooth applesauce
2 tbsp. white sugar
1.5 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup gluten-free flour blend
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the Earth Balance, vegan cream cheese, and applesauce with an electric mixer. Add in the 2 tbsp. white sugar and vanilla and continue to blend until all ingredients are creamed.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add in stages to the cookie dough batter, mixing each bit in with the electric mixer. By hand, stir in the chopped pecans.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on the parchment paper. Bake at 300 F for about 15 - 18 minutes, or just until the bottoms are browned and they are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let sit on the cookie sheet for 2 - 3 minutes, then roll each one in powdered sugar while still warm and place on a cooling rack. Once cooled, roll in powdered sugar once more time. Store in an airtight container with layers separated with waxed paper so they don't stick together. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blueberry Coffee Cake yeah. This didn't last very long in my house. I really need to have a more formal process for getting rid of all the baked goods I produce while living alone. That is, I need to alter my process, which often consists entirely of me just eating it all. Thank goodness for co-workers and friends who are willing to help me out!

Recently, I got nostalgic for this cake that my cousin and I made when she visited last year. I remembered it being pretty fantastic, and I also remember us absolutely demolishing it within a day or two because it was so good. We found a way to eat some at almost every meal. And um, sometimes not at meals. 

I can now confirm that the recipe holds up to my memory - this was absolutely delicious! It's a great recipe to make for a lazy mid-morning brunch or for dessert. And best of all, it's based on a ratio, meaning you can substitute nearly any flour you like as long as you keep the weight the same (but just be careful with coconut flour, which notoriously sucks up more than its fair share of liquids in baked goods; if you use it, you'll need to add more liquid to this recipe). 

*Please note that all measurements given below in cups are approximate, as I used my kitchen scale to make this cake and used an online converter to figure out the volume measurements.

4 eggs
8 oz. white sugar (~1 cup)
3 oz. Earth Balance Buttery Spread (3/4 stick or 6 tbsp.)
5 oz. applesauce (unsweeted, natural) (~1/2 cup)
1.5 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
3 oz. tapioca starch (~3/4 cup)
2 oz. sorghum (~1/2 cup)
3 oz. brown rice flour (~1/2 cup)
(OR 8 oz. of your favorite gf flour blend)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
3/4 lb. blueberries

For crumble topping:
4 - 6 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (or more to your own taste)
2 tsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Spray a glass 9" x 13" baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium or large mixing bowl, beat the eggs (preferably with an electric mixer) with the sugar until it's frothy.  Add the Earth Balance, applesauce, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla and mix until it's well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, and xanthan gum.  Add about 1/3 cup at a time to the wet ingredients, beating on medium speed until the batter is very smooth.

Pour the batter into the 9" x 13" pan.  Press the berries lightly into the top of the batter.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and Earth Balance.  Mix with your fingers until it's finely crumbly.  Sprinkle the cake generously with the cinnamon sugar crumble topping.

Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for as long as you can stand it before eating a piece (we lasted 20 minutes).  Keep refrigerated once cooled.  It's fantastic if you warm it slightly in the microwave before eating.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Taco Quesadillas

Mmmmyes. This, friends, is bliss. You can also call it a taco quesadilla. My brother Michael came to visit me for about a week before he left for his study abroad year in Germany, and we ate these for at least 5 - 6 meals while he was here. Because they are just that amazingly good. And super easy and fast to throw together. And did I mention that they're really good? Ok, good. Because they are.

Easy Taco Quesadillas

Gluten-free corn tortillas
Cooking spray or olive oil
Spices for tortillas: salt, pepper, garlic powder, chipotle powder or chili powder (if you have it)

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
Your favorite taco seasoning (I used Trader Joe's, which is rather spicy)
1 small can mild green chilies
1 cup roasted corn kernels (or plain corn)
Bell peppers of any and all colors, sliced and sauteed until soft
Sliced onion, sauteed until soft
Daiya Mozarella cheese (or your favorite non-dairy cheese)
Optional (i.e., not pictured here): refried beans, sour cream, any other taco toppings

Cook the ground beef/turkey and add the taco seasoning, chilies, corn, onion, bell peppers, and water (as directed on your taco seasoning packet). Simmer until it thickens to the consistency you want (you want it to be fairly thick so it doesn't drip a crazy amount in the quesadillas).

For each quesadilla: Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray, then sprinkle a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chipotle powder in the pan. Take a corn tortilla and rub it around on the bottom of the pan so it catches the spices, and cook over medium heat. As soon as you put the tortilla over the heat, sprinkle it with your non-dairy cheese on one side, and then add a spoonful or two of your taco meat on the other side. When the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy, fold it in half and remove from the pan. Serve immediately. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Caramelized Garlic Tart

So....fair warning. This tart is seriously addictive, and if you make it once, you're pretty much locked in to making it many more times, probably in a ridiculously short amount of time. Just saying.

Over the last few years, I haven't really bought many cookbooks - especially since my foray into the world of food blogging. There are so many fabulous recipes online now that it takes something really special for me to actually purchase a cookbook these days.

Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty is one of those cookbooks. Beautiful pictures with vivid colors and flavors - and simplicity. All the recipes are vegetarian (although he himself is not vegetarian), and each picture looks mouthwateringly delicious.

And this one, converted to be gluten- and dairy-free, completely lives up to the picture. It's pretty much amazing. First of all - caramelized garlic. What?? It's fantastically good, with the sweet balsamic syrup complementing the garlic flavor perfectly. And even though the original recipe calls for all kinds of dairy (heavy cream, goat cheese, and creme fraiche), the non-dairy version is still totally delicious.  I basically gave all of the non-dairy products in my fridge a chance to shine in this one - a little sour cream, a little yogurt, a little tofu-based goat cheese (from scratch), a little cream cheese, and Daiya cheese.

So, I know this recipe might look like it's a lot of work. And it's definitely more than minimal effort, although it is much less complicated than it might appear to be. The crust is super easy and requires no rising or rolling or anything - you just toss everything in a food processor, push the button, and then press it right into the pan. Done! And trust me....the results are worth the extra time you'll spend making this. Everyone I've served it to has loved it (one even admitted to dreaming about it later).

On top of that, it makes a perfect comfort food meal for autumn. So, it's pretty wonderful.


Caramelized Garlic Tart (Adapted from Plenty)

For crust (adapted from this recipe)

1 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
14 cup tapioca starch
3/4 tsp. salt
2 oz. Earth Balance Buttery Spread, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup ice cold water

For the caramelized garlic

2 heads of garlic cloves, peeled (I buy the peeled cloves from Trader Joe's to make the process go faster)
1 cup water
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. white sugar

For the "cheese" filling

1/2 of this vegan goat cheese recipe (or if you can tolerate goat cheese: 4.5 oz soft goat cheese, and 4.5 oz hard goat cheese)
4 tbsp. vegan sour cream
3.5 tbsp. vegan cream cheese
2.5 tbsp. soy creamer
3 tbsp. plain non-dairy yogurt (I used So Delicious)
1 cup Daiya Mozarella Cheese (more if desired)
optional: 2 tbsp. non-dairy ricotta cheese
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a tart pan or 9" springform pan with cooking spray.

To make the crust: Place the flours, salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse for about a minute, or until the butter has been distributed evenly throughout. In a small bowl, mix the egg and cold water together, then add to the food processor. Mix until a large ball of dough forms. Remove from food processor; if you have time, let it chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes. If you don't have time, press it into your pan evenly, making sure to build up about an inch of crust around the edges. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes while you assemble the other ingredients. Remove from oven and reduce the temperature to 350 F.

To make caramelized garlic: You'll blanche the garlic before caramelizing it. To do this, place the peeled garlic cloves in several cups of water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes. Drain the cloves, then add 1 cup of water and balasmic vinegar, then bring back to a simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the sugar, rosemary, and thyme, and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until a thick syrup has formed. Add the caramelized garlic evenly onto the baked crust, making sure to add all the syrup.

To make the "cheese" filling: Make the vegan goat cheese separately and add in dollops across the baked crust with the caramelized garlic. Then make the cheese filling as follows:

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, soy creamer, Daiya cheese, ricotta cheese (if desired), and eggs, and mix well together (I used an electric mixer). Add about 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Pour the entire thing over the garlic and goat cheese and place in the oven at 350 F for 40 - 50 minutes, or until it is ever-so-slightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out mostly clean. If you want the tart to be slightly more moist, err on the side of 40 minutes; if you want it to be a bit dryer, let it bake for about 50 minutes.

Let cool slightly before serving. This would go great with anything green - I served it with grilled asparagus, but a green salad, brussel sprouts, etc. would be wonderful, too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sauteed Hakurei Turnips with Green Garlic

Have you ever heard of - or seen - a Hakurei Turnip before?

I had not. So when I opened my first box of farm share goodies from Siena Farms, I wasn't totally sure what they were, much less what to do with them. They don't look like the turnips I'm used to - these are tasty and crispy raw, with a subtle sweetness that is drawn out even more if you sprinkle a little salt over them. After tasting them raw, I was curious to see how they hold up under heat.

Deliciously, it turns out. They're sort of starchy, but with fewer calories than potatoes and a nice, light texture. And with the simple additions of green garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, you won't go wrong!

Farm Share Experiment #1 = success.

Sauteed Hakurei Turnips with Green Garlic

1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 piece green garlic, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
4 - 6 Hakurei turnips, sliced finely
1/2 tsp. fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil and add the green garlic, garlic, oregano, and sliced turnips together. Sautee over medium heat for 4 - 7 minutes, or until the turnips are nicely browned and soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Maple Oat Bars

I feel like I've taken a bit of a sabbatical from my blog lately. I'm still in recovery from grad school, and something about having free time all of a sudden meant I needed to redefine how I spend free time. And when I bake and cook. In grad school, cooking was an acute thing (even though it was still something I loved). It was often about realizing it was Sunday night, and that I needed to cook something in bulk to have enough food to take with me for lunch at work and dinner in class. Or I'd get so stressed out that the only thing I could do was to bake a cake or produce dozens of cookies or create a recipe for donuts. It was almost always something I needed to do.

But now? Now I can cook when I want to. And what a lovely feeling that is.

Last week, I had a sudden hankering for maple. Happily, this hankering (and the time to act on it) happened to coincide with a marathon of Mad Men with one of my good friends Joanna. And so, a tray of maple oat bars kept us (and Don Draper) company. I remembered making something like this before, and so I found that old recipe, gave it a slight makeover, and voila! Delicious, moist, crumbly-but-not-falling-apart, wonderful, maple-y oat bars. The funny thing about these is that they taste much better once they've been chilled (even though they're nothing to scoff at right out of the oven), so I recommend making them ahead of time and keeping in the fridge until you're ready to serve them. But no matter what temperature, these bars are fantastic.

Maple Oat Bars
Makes one 9 x 13" pan

3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice OR 1/2 tsp. more cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. maple syrup
3 tsp. maple extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
5 tbsp. non-dairy milk + additional tablespoonfuls as needed to moisten the batter
1/2 cup crushed toasted pecans
1/2 cup crushed roasted cashews

For the maple drizzle:
1 - 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. maple extract
1 - 3 tsp. water (add only a tiny bit at a time until you've got the consistency you want)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13" glass or ceramic pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine all dry ingredients (except for the nuts) in a large bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients, and pour into the dry ingredients all at once. Stir to combine; add additional tablespoonfuls of non-dairy milk as needed until the batter is moistened enough. (It should have the consistency of very thick muffin batter.)

Spread the batter evenly into the greased pan. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. These are best when they are slightly underbaked, as the middle will be nice and gooey. If the edges are getting brown too quickly, you can make a little tin foil tent and put it over the top so it bakes more evenly. When a toothpick comes out clean, remove from oven and let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, maple extract, and just enough water to moisten the icing enough to be drizzled. When the oat bars are completely cooled, drizzle the icing over the entire pan.

These are best stored in the fridge, and in fact, taste much better once they've been chilled.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

German Vollkornbrot (Seeded Bread)

Many years ago, before I was diagnosed with celiac, I spent two years living in Germany. And in a way, I'm grateful for the fact that I wasn't yet diagnosed. Sure, I felt awful most of the time and struggled with all kinds of symptoms that come with undiagnosed gluten intolerance. But on the upside, if I had to be dealing with all of that, at least I was surrounded by some of the best glutenful food I've ever tasted. The softest pretzels, the most delicious and refreshing (and largest) wheat beers, Bavarian potato salad I could probably eat a vat of, and bread. Oh, the bread.

The bread in Germany is of a very different strand than it is here in the U.S. We tend to enjoy softer, more pliable breads here; breads that will soak up your peanut butter and jelly, and cushion your club sandwich. But not German bread. German bread is unapologetically solid. It packs a punch and is often the wholest of whole grain and has a dense texture studded with lots of seeds and nuts.

I love it. 

So when this month's Gluten-free Ratio Rally challenge for bread rolled around, I knew just what I wanted to make: a replica of my favorite German bread, Vollkornbrot ("fully seeded bread"). I relied mainly on dark whole grain flours like teff and buckwheat, added apple cider vinegar for a sourdough-like flavor, and dumped a full cup of seeds in there - pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. And you don't have to stop there. Go wild. Add whatever you want. I'm pretty confident it will turn out to be delicious. 

A big thanks to Karen of Cooking Gluten Free for hosting this month's Rally!

Ruhlman's ratio for bread is 5 parts flour to 3 parts water, but I ended up needing to add a bit more water to mine, so that my ratio ended up more like 5 parts flour to 3.5 parts water. I made this in a bread machine, but you could certainly make it the traditional way and just let it rise for a good 30 - 45 minutes in a warm place before smoothing it into a bread pan and baking in a conventional oven.

This won't rise very much, but that's ok. That's the German way, at least for this particular style of bread. It's meant to be very dense and cut into thin slices. My German roommates and I used to sit around the breakfast table for hours, chatting away the late morning and cutting slice after slice. We would eat it with all kinds of wonderful jams, Nutella, slices of cheese with butter.... After this loaf came out of the breadmaker, I felt so nostalgic that I pulled out some of my homemade German Forest Berry jam to enjoy spread across a toasted piece.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did. Here's the recipe, and be sure to check below for the links to the rest of the fantastic bread creations that my fellow Ratio Rally friends came up with!

Breadmaker German Vollkornbrot (Seeded Bread)

100 g teff flour
75 g buckwheat flour
50 g sorghum flour
25 g potato starch
2 tbsp. flaxseed meal
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. xanthan gum
175 g warm water
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. rapid rise yeast 
1 cup mixed seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, etc.)

Bread machine directions:
Combine the wet ingredients and the yeast into the bread machine pan. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except for the mixed seeds (which you will add later in the bread machine cycle). Pour them over the wet ingredients and set the bread machine to the gluten-free cycle. After the first rise (during the second knead) or whenever your bread machine tells you to do it, add the cup of mixed seeds and stir to mix well. Make sure to spread the dough out evenly in the pan. Let bake for the rest of the bread machine cycle. Remove from pan when done and let cool on a wire rack.

For conventional ovens:
If you are making this in a conventional oven, no problem! If you go this route, you'll want to proof the yeast before you add it. To do this, stir together about 1/2 cup of the water, the tbsp. sugar, and the 3 tbsp. yeast and let sit in a warm place until it doubles. Combine the dry ingredients, including all of the seeds and nuts, and then add all of the wet ingredients at once and mix well. Place into a greased bread pan, cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 - 60 minutes, or until it's grown substantially in size (it may not double, but it should get marginally bigger). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to about 350 F. When the bread has risen, stick it into the oven and bake for 25 - 40 minutes, or until it sounds hollow when you tap on the bottom and the edges are golden brown.

More Recipes
Check out these other wonderful options for some gluten-free breads to try from my fellow Ratio Rally friends!

Adina | Gluten Free Travelette  Seedy Sandwich Bread
Angela | Angela’s Kitchen  Our Family’s Basic Gluten Free Dairy Free Bread
~Aunt Mae (aka ~Mrs. R) | Honey From Flinty Rocks  Chia Millet Bread
Brooke | B & the boy!  Buckwheat-Oat Bread
Charissa | Zest Bakery  Cherry Pecan Pot Bread, Gluten Free  
Claire | This Gluten-Free Life  German Vollkornbrot (Seeded Bread)
Erin | The Sensitive Epicure English Sandwich Bread (gluten-free & egg-free)   
Jenn | Jenn Cuisine  Gluten Free Boule
Jonathan | The Canary Files Gluten-Free, Vegan Mediterranean Soda Bread
Karen | Cooking Gluten Free!  Gluten Free Sandwich Bread/Gluten Free Naan
Meaghan | The Wicked Good Vegan  Vegan Gluten-Free Bread
Meg | Gluten-Free Boulangerie  Ciabatta (gluten-free, egg-free/vegan)
Monika | Chew on This!  amaranth skillet flatbreads, amaranth mini pita rounds
Morri | Meals with Morri No Knead Sun-dried Tomato & Basil Flatbread (yeast free/grain free) 
Pete & Kelli | No Gluten, No Problem  Gluten-Free Challah
Rachel / The Crispy Cook  Gluten Free Chickpea Sandwich Bread
TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies  Gluten Free White Bread
Tara | A Baking Life  Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread & Boule

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fudgy Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Chocolate Icing

Ohmygod-sogood. This was amazingly delicious, and super easy to throw together. Thick in the middle of finishing up my Master's thesis, I was having some hard core chocolate cravings last week. So I pulled out a Gefen boxed chocolate cake mix that was on sale after Passover ended and modified it to make it lower fat. Then, I modified the frosting and ended up making it higher fat. So it probably all comes out in the wash, and you won't remember modifying anything once you're having a piece.

After trying the frosting in the box (which was so so sugary I couldn't eat more than a tiny taste of it - and that is saying something, because my tolerance for sugar is usually well above average - I decided to scrap it and make my own frosting. And what could be better than the combination of peanut butter and chocolate? I couldn't think of anything, so that was that. It turned out to be fabulous. If you want these to be more like brownies, I suspect you could eliminate one of the eggs - but I haven't tried it myself. But even as it was, the cake had a lovely rich texture, and the icing was the perfect complement to its chocolatey-ness. Perfect for a night of studying and sure to satisfy chocolate cravings, stress-induced or otherwise.

Fudgy Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Chocolate Icing

For cake:
1 package Gefen gluten-free chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup fig butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup almond milk

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9" round pan. Mix all ingredients together with an electric mixer for about 3 - 4 minutes, or until smooth. Pour into the pan and bake for 25 - 40 minutes (depending on your oven), just until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely (if you can stand to wait).

For icing:
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
3 - 4 tbsp. natural cocoa powder (to your own taste)
1/2 - 1 cup powdered sugar (to your own taste)
2 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt

Mix all ingredients together very well, and adjust ingredients to your own taste until you get the consistency you want in your icing. Spread evenly over completely cooled cake. Then eat the rest with a spoon. (Seriously - you won't be sorry for at least 10 minutes.)

Store cake in the refrigerator and let warm to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Heavenly. Simply heavenly. I loved these so much that I had to give most of them away. If I hadn't, I would have eaten the entire batch by myself, easily--probably in a shamefully short amount of time.

Peanut butter and jelly is one of my favorite combinations ever. I love it so much that I ate peanut butter sandwiches every day for several years in my first two jobs as an adult. I still eat it all the time. It's one of the things I could probably live on for a good long time before I got sick of it.

So when I saw the Gluten-free Goddess' Peanut Butter Banana Cake, I knew I had to try it out for myself. I made a few modifications, and then decided at the last minute to make it into a portable PB&J sandwich by adding a dollop of my homemade Black Raspberry Mango jam before baking them. They turned out to be FABULOUS. One of my friends took one bite and said, "So this is basically a peanut butter sandwich shaped like a muffin. It's wonderful." And I had to agree as I scarfed mine down with her.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins (Adapted from Gluten-free Goddess' Peanut Butter Banana Cake)
Makes 9 muffins

2 large bananas
1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tsp. white sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 - 5 tbsp. of your favorite jam (I used my homemade black raspberry mango)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with 9 paper liners.

Cream together the bananas, peanut butter, agave nectar, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the coconut flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and mix well. Coconut flour can be particularly clumpy, so try to work out all the lumps.

Spoon into the muffin tins, filling each one about 2/3 full. Spoon about 1 or 1 1/2 tsp. of jam into the middle of each one. Bake them for about 17 - 20 minutes, or just until a sharp knife comes out clean, and the top is slightly browned. Remove from the oven and let sit in the hot pan for about 3 - 4 more minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

These only lasted long enough for me to verify they are still good 2 days later. But I suspect if you keep them in the refrigerator, that they will keep for about 4 days.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Classic Deviled Eggs for One (maybe Two)

You're looking at my Easter celebration! I'm pretty equal opportunity when it comes to religious holidays, so I'll probably be eating these later with some matzo toffee bark. (Hey, it all starts out with the same book, right?)

If you live alone like me, and have no children, you may find yourself still craving some Easter favorites, but in smaller volumes. So after a disastrous first attempt at making deviled eggs last night (I put the eggs on to boil and promptly became engrossed in a TV show in the next room. The next time I thought about them was when I heard them explode in my kitchen. Easter fail.), I tried again this morning. It went much more smoothly, mainly because of the lack of explosion involved.

Because it's just me, I only used two hard-boiled eggs, and it made just the right amount. But hey, if you're even less hungry, or if you're saving room for other Easter or Passover treats, go ahead and halve this recipe.

Classic Deviled Eggs for One

2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1 tbsp. Ojai Lemonaise (or your favorite brand of mayo)
1/8 tsp. white vinegar (optional)
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
Dash of salt (to taste)
Dash of paprika + more for sprinkling

Remove the yolk from the halved eggs and place in a small bowl. Add the mayo, vinegar (optional), and spices and mix well. Place back onto the egg whites in equal amounts, then sprinkle with paprika.

Voila! Chill until ready to eat. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Maple Oat Nut Scones

These are amazing. Simply amazing. I made them a while back after one of the Gluten-Free Ratio Rallies, and they were some of the first gluten-free scones I've ever had that really, truly, honestly tasted like scones. One of my friends who swore he hated scones LOVED these. Couldn't get enough of them. Enough said.

They are full of lovely maple flavor and taste like the ones you get at Starbucks (at least, from what I remember). Seriously - they will disappear in a matter of hours (minutes?) if they even make it off the cooling rack.

Find this fabulous recipe by Gretchen at Kumquat by clicking here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Gluten-free Passover Round-up

Passover is one of my favorite holidays. It's not because I'm religious or anything (although I do have very fond memories of my family's seder dinners). No - it's because Passover is very kind to those of us who can't eat gluten. A lot of this holiday is naturally gluten-free! Here are some ways to make Passover season a delicious one (whether you're Jewish or not):

Apple Raisin Charoset

Flourless Mini Carrot Cakes

Gluten-free Matzoh Toffee Bark

Lemon Passover Cupcakes with Blackberry Jam

Passover Lemon Sponge Cake

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

St. Patty's Day Marshmallow Swirl Brownies for the Ratio Rally

Is there anything more irresistible than a rich, fudgy brownie? Is there?

I didn't think so. And I totally agree.

These are in the top five most dangerous things for me to bake as a single woman living alone. I have to get very strategic about timing, baking them just before I am about to see a large number of unsuspecting friends or co-workers I can pawn them off on. If I don't, I end up in a (lonely) repeat of the time in college when my roommate and I sat in front of a pan of brownies with forks, demolishing about 3/4 of them before we knew what was happening.

Still, they are one of my absolutely favorite desserts. Which is why I was so happy that the Gluten-free Ratio Rally decided to tackle brownies this month. 

Our host for the Ratio Rally this month is Mary Fran from Franny Cakes. And we've got quite a line-up of chocolate goodness, practically anything you can imagine. I am salivating just reading the list - salted caramel, chocolate orange, mint chocolate, blueberry citrus (!), PB&J....

For my variation, I decided to go with an old favorite of mine, marshmallow swirl. And since it was March, they clearly needed to be green. It's festive. And versatile! You can make these any color you want. 

These use very little flour, and so my ratio ended up being kind of bizarre. 4 parts fat : 4 parts egg : ~ 2.5 parts flour. No liquid - but yes, 8 parts chocolate. (If you're going to do this, do it right.)

So that's what I did. I made these for a potluck party, and people raved about them. The word "amazing" was tossed around quite a bit, and they disappeared pretty quickly. People who saw me the next week were still talking about these brownies. Multiple people have told me they are the best brownies they have ever had, period. They are that good. 

Go ahead. Whip up a batch. You know you want to. 

St. Patty's Day Marshmallow Swirl Brownies
Makes one 9"x13" pan of brownies

4 oz (1 stick) Earth Balance Buttery Spread
8 oz. Trader Joe's Belgian Dark Chocolate (72%)
10 oz. (1.5 cups) white sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1.5 oz (1/2 cup) almond flour
.6 oz (1/8 cup) sorghum flour
.5 oz (1/8 cup) tapioca starch
1 tsp. salt
3/4 - 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff
1/2 - 1 tsp. gluten-free green food dye (more as needed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil or spray with cooking spray.

Place butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water; stir frequently until chocolate and butter are melted.  Alternatively, place them in the microwave for 2 - 4 minutes, stirring frequently to break up the clumps of chocolate.  Let cool for 10 minutes (til they are about at room temperature).

Stir the sugar into the melted chocolate until combined. Stir in the eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Whisk in the vanilla. 

In a small bowl, combine the almond flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, and salt.  Gently fold the mixture into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth top. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top and pres lightly into the batter.

In a small bowl, mix the Marshmallow Fluff with the green food dye until you've got a nice, bright shade of green. Swirl into the top of the brownie batter.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, anywhere from 35-45 minutes (I baked mine for 39 minutes or so). Start checking them after about 30 minutes to gauge how quickly they are baking so you don't overbake them.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and serve once cooled.  Store in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze; reheat before serving.  

Check out all the other lovely creations - and just try to resist. I dare you.

Adina from Gluten Free Travelette made Chocolate Brownie Pie with Orange Zest
Angela from Angela's Kitchen made Gluten & Dairy Free Cream Egg Brownies
Brooke from B & the boy! made Triple Chocolate Brownies
Caitlin from {Gluten Free} Nom Nom Nom made Peppermint Brownie Bars
Caleigh from Gluten Free[k] made White chocolate and marshmallow brownies
Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free made Triple chocolate brownies
Charissa Luke from Zest Bakery made Slutty gluten-free brownies
Claire from My Gluten Free Home PB&J Brownie Whoopee Pies
Erin from The Sensitive Epicure made Mexican Cocoa Brownies with an Almond & Pepitas Crust
gretchen from kumquat made salted caramel brownies
Heather from Discovering the Extraordinary made Nutmeg Blondies
Irvin from Eat the Love made Blueberry Citrus Marble Brownies
Jean from Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes made Blue Ribbon Brownies
Jonathan from The Canary Files made Vegan Marbled Banana Walnut Brownies
Karen from Cooking Gluten Free! made GFChewy Crackled Top Brownies with Raspberry Puree
Mary Fran from FrannyCakes made Gluten-Free Hazelnut (Nutella) Brownies
Morri from Meals with Morri made Oaxacan Brownies & Mesquite Cacao Blondies
Mrs. R from Honey From Flinty Rocks made Black Bean S'More Brownies
Pete and Kelli from No Gluten, No Problem made Caramel Mexican Chocolate Mesquite Brownies
Rachel from The Crispy Cook made Co-CoNut-Nut Blondies
Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl made Gluten-Free Brownies
Tara from A Baking Life made Mint Chocolate Flourless Brownies
TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies Gluten Free Berry Fudge Brownies 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cherry Amaretto Pancakes for One (Vegan)

Do NOT let the vegan thing scare you off. These fluff up just as nicely as any egg-laden pancakes, I promise you that. And they are so simple to throw together - trust me, I know because I made about 5 different batches before I got the ratio right.

These are wonderfully sweet, but if you're trying to reduce your sweets intake, you can leave the sugar out and still get great results. That's because sugar or no sugar, the pairing of cherries with the amaretto syrup is unbeatable. The flavor in these is just heavenly. The recipe below will make enough for one really hungry or 1 1/2 moderately hungry people, so I recommend doubling the recipe if you're having a guest for breakfast. Or if you just don't want them to run out as quickly (which....let's face it. You won't.)

Cherry Amaretto Pancakes for One 
Makes about 6 small or 3 medium pancakes
*This recipe is easily doubled or tripled.

3 tbsp. + 1 tsp. sorghum flour (3/4 oz.)
2 tbsp. almond flour (1/2 oz.)
2 tbsp. tapioca starch (1/2 oz.)
1 tbsp. white sugar (1/2 oz.)
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. EnerG Egg Replacer + 1 tbsp. water
2 ½ tbsp. So Delicious Vanilla AlmondPlus Milk
1 ½ tsp. Earth Balance Buttery Spread, melted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. amaretto syrup (can substitute ½ tsp. almond extract)
1/3 cup cherries, chopped into small pieces
Maple syrup, amaretto syrup, and extra cherries for topping

Measure out the flours and mix them together with the salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat the egg replacer with the tablespoon of water until frothy, then add the almond milk, melted vegan butter substitute, vanilla, and amaretto syrup and mix together. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and stir to combine. Add in the chopped cherries.

Meanwhile, spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and preheat at medium heat. When the skillet is preheated, add about 1 ½ - 2 tbsp. worth of batter for each pancake (the batter will spread in the pan). Cook for about 2 – 3 minutes on each side until done all the way through.

Serve hot topped with maple syrup, amaretto syrup, and the extra cherries mixed together. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Pesto

I know. It may seem kind of weird. But, really - roasted garlic? Roasted eggplant? You can't go wrong.

Simplicity is something I need in my life right now, at least with food. Everything else feels so crazy and rushed and looming and overwhelming between my job and finishing up with graduate school, that the idea of a simple meal that still tastes good (and is healthy, no less) is irresistible. And that's what this recipe is - simplicity at its best. Minimal work upfront, and then it turns into a magnificent meal while you do other stuff.

So give it a try! Eggplants are one of those oft-overlooked vegetables that may surprise you. So why not let it?

Roasted Eggplant Pesto
Makes enough for two servings of pasta

1 medium eggplant
20 ripe cherry tomatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
To taste (roughly 1/2 tsp of each): dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Line a large roasting pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Peel the eggplant and cut into 4 pieces (lengthwise). Sprinkle liberally with salt (you'll wipe most of it off again in a few minutes) and let sit for about 15 minutes. This will cause the eggplants to "sweat" and will get rid of some of the moisture. After 15 minutes, use paper towels to wipe the beads of moisture and salt off of the eggplant. Cut it into large chunks and place back into the foil-lined roasting pan.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic into small pieces, and cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Add them to the eggplant once you've done the step above.  In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour it over the entire mixture. Sprinkle the spices over the whole thing and stir it up to mix (but don't worry about mixing it too well).

Place in the oven and roast for about an hour, stirring every 10 - 15 minutes. Roast until the eggplant is very tender - it may take longer than an hour. Once it's done, put it all into a food processor and blend until it's as smooth as you'd like it. You can add a bit more olive oil or a little water if you want it to be thinner.

Serve over gluten-free pasta as a pesto, or as a tapenade on bread or crackers.