Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Well, after being my own chief reader of this blog for almost the last 2 years (coming back on to look up my own recipes because I lost them or didn't feel like looking them up, heh-heh), I'm back!

...For at least one post. ;-)

It's officially starting to feel like fall out there, so naturally, I'm starting to feel like things need be made with pumpkin around here. And since I am a big fan of muffins... and chocolate... what better recipe to start with on my pumpkin quest?

But enough chatter... let's just get to the recipe.

[Picture coming as soon as I make these again... Wish I'd have thought to do it when I made them the other night!]  

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

Ingredients:

 ¾ recipe (1½ cups) of the flour mix found in my Cranberry Bread recipe*
½ c. chopped GF oats (I used rolled oats from Trader Joe's, blending them in the food processor)
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. pumpkin spice
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. butter or margarine
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can (approx. 1¾ c.) pumpkin
a few tbs. milk or milk substitute (as needed)
½-¾ c. chocolate chips (or raisins if you prefer)

*Edit: I previously included xanthan gum as a separate item in this recipe, but as long as you use it in the flour mix, as listed in the link, you don't need to add any extra.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, oats, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon). Set aside. In another bowl, whip butter until softened. Add sugar and mix thoroughly. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating mixture as you go. When the dry ingredients are fairly incorporated into the wet, add pumpkin and mix well. The batter may seem pretty thick, and this is okay, but if it seems to need a little thinning out, add a few tbs. of milk. (I've been adding 2-4 tbs. per batch.) Stir in chocolate chips.

Grease or line one muffin tin (for a dozen muffins). I recommend greasing vs. lining, because you will pretty much be filling each cup to the top. After doing so, place on a middle rack in the oven and bake for about 22-25 minutes. Best to let cool before serving, unless of course you prefer getting into a mess of melted chocolate!

These muffins are hearty little dudes that can fill you up surprisingly quickly! I sometimes make muffins as the main course of our "breakfast dinners," and while my older kids can eat 3-4 blueberry muffins easy, they could barely make it through 2 of these (and it wasn't for any absence of deliciousness). Pretty sure these will be a staple around here over the next few months. :-)

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Made from Scratch: Waffles

It would seem that more and more folks are hopping aboard the gluten-free train these days, and this is particularly the case among my circle of friends. Just in the last month, I have heard of five or six new friends who have decided to remove gluten from their (or someone in their family's) diet. I've posted a link to my blog a number of times, but I've had to tell them that I've been very lax about posting here these days. So I am here to announce that I hope to start improving on that.

It just so happens that this recent influx of people converting to the Dark Side (mwahaha!) has coincided with a renewed effort on my part to start baking more gluten-free products from scratch. This is largely because (as I mention in my last post) I have decided to completely re-remove dairy from my own and my children's diets, and my very favorite baking mix (Pamela's Pancake and Baking Mix) happens to contain a small amount of powdered milk. Boo.

I have tried Bob's Red Mill all-purpose mix, but it is a little heavy for my tastes and doesn't end up with the texture that I like. I also purchased some Better Batter mix when I was able to get a good deal on it, and though I haven't used it much yet, I have witnessed and tasted some of the results made by my sister, and it really is awesome! Not very kind on the budget, however. So, I've been trying to formulate my own gluten-free flour mixtures instead. I have yet to determine whether it is actually cost-effective in the long run, but for now, it's holding us over while we re-adjust to our lives without dairy, as well as giving me a new experiment to try!

My first great success in this venture was the cranberry bread which I posted a couple weeks ago. I made some blueberry muffins shortly thereafter using a similar flour mix, and they were good, but needed a little tweaking. But my next success was a new recipe for waffles that I tried out this weekend. I haven't had enough time to play with this flour mix in other recipes yet, but I may have hit on my new favorite all-purpose mix. Time will tell. In the meantime, these waffles pretty much rock (if I do say so myself).



JESSICA'S WAFFLES (from scratch)

Ingredients:

1 c. milk (or milk substitute... I used rice milk, but almond or coconut would be great)
1/2 tbs. lemon juice (or vinegar)
3/4 c. brown rice flour
3/4 c. tapioca starch (aka tapioca flour)
1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. corn starch
2 tbs. flaxseed meal (optional*)
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbs. sugar (optional)
4 eggs
1/4 c. oil
1 c. water (approx.)

Directions:

Place milk in a cup or small bowl and mix with lemon juice. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add all dry ingredients (including sugar, if using) to a large bowl and mix well (a whisk works best). In another small bowl, briefly whisk eggs. Add milk, eggs, and oil and mix briefly. Add 1 cup of water and mix well. Add up to 1/2 c. more water as necessary until desired batter consistency is reached. Grease waffle iron (if needed), bake, and enjoy!

Yield: About 6-7 medium-large waffles, enough to feed myself, my husband, and my three small children. If you are baking for fewer people, you can halve the recipe, or bake a full batch and freeze some for later.

*I picked up a bag of flaxseed meal from Trader Joe's... I can't remember exactly how much it was, but I'm thinking it was only $3-4. It adds a nice little boost of flavor and texture as well as nutrition, but I think it could be left out easily enough. You could also try almond meal in its place. (I often buy big bags of almonds from Costco, so I sometimes just stick a few handfuls into my food processor to make my own almond meal.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cranberry Bread

Well, after over a year since I last posted, I figure it's high time for some new recipes... especially since I've been referring several people to this blog in the past couple months. Maybe over the winter I'll be able to catch up on my recipe sharing a little bit!

Today's recipe is brought to you by the classic children's book Cranberry Thanksgiving. My girls and I have been reading this book for school (using the homeschool Five in a Row curriculum), and today's project was to bake "Grandmother's Famous Cranberry Bread." Of course, with our dietary restrictions (including our recent re-elimination of dairy from our diets), we couldn't just follow the recipe exactly as it reads in the book. So here is my adaptation.


"GRANDMOTHER'S FAMOUS CRANBERRY BREAD"

Ingredients:
Sifted all-purpose flour, gluten-free mixture as follows:
-- 1/2 c. brown rice flour
-- 1/2 c. sorghum flour
-- 1/2 c. tapioca starch
-- 1/4 c. millet flour
-- 1/4 c. corn starch
-- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
(2 cups total flour mixture)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. butter or margarine (I used Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. grated orange peel
3/4 c. orange juice
1 1/2 c. golden raisins
1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped

Directions:
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add egg, orange peel, and orange juice all at once; stir just until mixture is evenly moist. Fold in raisins and cranberries.

Spoon into a greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. [Note: Mine was finished cooking 5-10 minutes sooner than the recipe suggested, so I would check it at close to an hour.] Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.

If you choose, you may substitute cranberries for the raisins to have an all cranberry bread.

I did not change anything about this recipe except substituting the gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients, and slightly shortening the cooking time. Oh, and I also had to substitute white grape juice for about half the orange juice, since I didn't have enough. It turned out great! My only critique is that it was a little sweet for my taste... but then, golden raisins have never really been my thing, and there are quite a lot of them in this bread. I might try regular raisins or the all-cranberry version as suggested next time I make this... though perhaps not having to substitute for the orange juice would also help. :-)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Gluten-Free Pizza

I've posted before about my history with pizza, along with my recipe for a quick-and-dirty method for a pizza substitute. But now I'm here to tell you that I've finally tried out the real thing... and I LOVE it. I made my first GF pizza a couple of months ago, and I've made it once about every 2 weeks since then (which in my house means it has become a major staple). I've discovered that at least 2 of my girls can handle enough cow cheese to have them eat genuine pizza, and for my other daughter I just top it with goat or sheep cheese instead. She loves it and never knows any different. I told my husband she's going to be a cheese snob when she grows up.

But anyway... about the recipe. I've tried Bob's Red Mill pizza mix a couple of times now, and it was pretty good, but didn't make as much as the recipe I'm about to share. (Plus, though I haven't done the exact math, I'm sure it's probably more expensive to buy it in a mix... and you know I can't stand for that, right?!) I've tried a few different recipes besides that, and most of them turned out pretty well, but not necessarily great. This one is the best so far. Pretty sure I'm sticking with it for a good long while. It does have quite a few flours to mix together, but once you've built a gluten-free baking flour collection, these should pretty much all be in your cupboard, I think. These are all fairly inexpensive for gluten-free flours (around $4-6 each for a 1-2 lb. bag). You can substitute something else if you want, though... just make sure you substitute flours for flours and starches for starches.

Adapted from the recipe found here.


PIZZA CRUST

Ingredients:
¾ c. brown rice
¾ c. white rice
½ c. millet flour
½ c. sorghum flour
1 c. tapioca starch (or corn starch, but tapioca makes the dough lighter)
½ c. potato starch
¼ c. almond meal
1 tbs. xanthan gum
1½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar for proofing yeast
1 packet active dry yeast*
1 1/4 c. warm water
2 eggs
5 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbs. honey

Preferred equipment: Stand mixer**
Note: This recipe makes 2 large thick-crust pizzas, or 2½ large or 3 medium thin-crust pizzas. This recipe should be easily halved. (It was halved in the original version.)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 170° (for rising). Prepare pizza pans or baking sheets by greasing and lightly dusting with extra rice flour.

2. Add dry ingredients (not including yeast or sugar) to a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Using a whisk is helpful.

3. To proof the yeast: Add the yeast, sugar, and about ¼ c. of the warm water to small bowl. Mix and allow to sit for about 3-5 minutes, until it thickens slightly and gets a little fluffy.*

4. While the yeast is activating, mix together eggs, oil, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl.

5. Place the dry ingredients in the stand mixer. Make a well in the center, add the egg mixture, and mix a bit. Add yeast and mix.

6. (The following is straight from the original author.) “At this point, gage the liquid level. You want the dough to look like stiff cake batter. The dough should still hold the swirls of the mixer, but it should be shiny and not dull. Add the rest of the water slowly until the right consistency is achieved. ...since different brands of flour and measuring techniques vary, it is best to eyeball this and add the water slowly to get the texture you want. You will get good at knowing what gluten free pizza dough is supposed to look like.” Now from me: I probably added a bit too much water the first time I used this recipe... The dough was more “shiny,” but it did not hold the swirls of the mixer. The downside of this is that the dough may turn out a little more doughy and not as crispy (though this was not my experience the first time I tried it... I thought it turned out great!). The positive side is that it was MUCH easier to handle while I spread it out on my baking sheet. More on this in the next step...

7. Turn off the oven. Divide dough and scoop it out onto your pizza pans or baking sheets. Now is the part where the consistency of the dough will make a difference. If you made the dough with the “correct” amount of water, you will want to dampen your hands with water or olive oil in order to spread it out. This can be a little tricky as the dough will be very sticky. However, if you have slightly more damp dough, you can flatten the dough slightly (yeah, this will be messy at first), then sprinkle some rice flour over the dough before spreading. You will likely want to be pretty generous with your sprinkling... I used about ¼ c. of flour per crust. So you won't have to stick dirty, doughy hands into the flour, I recommend pouring ½ c. or so of flour into a cup so you can sprinkle on a little more as needed as you go along. This may all sound a little more complicated, but actually I found it much easier... Also, I prefer a little flour dusting on my crust vs. an oil brushing. You could always brush it with oil after spreading if you want anyway.

8. Once the dough is spread evenly over the pans, place in the warm oven to rise for about 30-40 minutes. The author of the original recipe claims it works without a rise time as well, and actually turned out crispier and fluffier for her. However, see my note below at the * mark.

9. Turn the oven up to 400° and pre-bake the crusts for about 10 minutes. (If you are making multiple crusts, you may want to switch racks halfway through to allow even baking.)

10. Remove from oven and add toppings as desired. (See pizza sauce recipe and topping suggestions below.) Place back in the oven and cook for about 7-12 more minutes, or until desired doneness of toppings.

*I tried using a special “pizza dough yeast” this last time, which claimed it did not require rising time. I wasn't super happy with the results... The dough didn't rise very well. I may have added a little too much liquid, or I may have needed another packet of yeast. I think next time I will try fixing one of these issues, or I may just give the dough time to rise. I also didn't activate the yeast first, so I may do this as well, though the packets claimed that they didn't need proofing. All I know is that it worked a lot better for me the first time when I used regular yeast, proofed it, and allowed the dough to rise. The crust was fluffy, a little crispy, and not too gummy or spongy. The crust with the pizza dough yeast bubbled up a little and was delectably crispy around the edges (I also made it thin-crust-style this time, so that may have help with that), but it was a little flat and more moist-looking in the middle. Considering it was so thin, it didn't matter too much, but I wouldn't make it this way again with a thicker crust. Also, I may not have cooked it quite long enough or hot enough this last time, so my directions above reflect the changes I would have made to rectify this.

**If you don't have a stand mixer, it is still possible to make this dough, but it is a good deal more difficult. The dough likes to climb up the beaters and makes it very difficult to mix, but with a little patience, it can be done. You may want to make a half recipe instead, though.


PIZZA SAUCE

Ingredients:
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
½ c. ketchup
¾ c. water
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
1½ tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. oregano
¾ tsp. salt (or less if there is already salt in the tomato paste)

Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix thoroughly. (This may look like too much water at first, but trust me... it will work.)

Makes enough sauce to cover as much pizza as the above recipe will make. It will be a little thin if you make the thin-crust pizza, so you may want to add another half a recipe if you like a lot of sauce. I thought it was a fine amount, though.

Topping Suggestions (in case you haven't made pizza before or haven't done it in a long time like me):
* One 16-oz. block of mozzarella cheese will cover two large pizzas pretty generously.
* Half a small bag of pepperoni will cover one large pizza generously, or two pizzas moderately. Since not everyone likes pepperoni around here, I actually split my bags into thirds and froze the portions I wasn't using (since we never eat it except on pizza). Apparently my kids like pepperoni more than I thought, though, so next time I'll probably do it in halves.
* Half a medium onion, one smallish green pepper, and about 4 oz. of mushrooms (5-6 medium) makes a perfect amount to cover one pizza (in my book anyway). I'm not a big fan of olives, but you can always add those, too, plus the pepperoni to make one smashing premium pizza.
* A sprinkling of fresh basil leaves is awesome, too, if you happen to have a basil plant in the back yard.

And though you will obviously pay more for a homemade gluten-free pizza than if you were making it with gluten, you probably will still pay less than if you were ordering out. And anyway, homemade pizza beats Domino's any day. :-)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cornbread Muffins

Fall is on the way, complete with the cooler weather that calls for warm, comforting meals like chili... Which reminds me, I need to post another of my favorite chili recipes...

But anyway, the natural companion for chili and other warm meals is of course... cornbread. Who doesn't love munching on that crumbly goodness, normally slathered in some butter and honey (often mixed together as "honey butter" in my house)?

Of course, when you are gluten-free and you have been used to making cornbread from mixes, you quickly realize that just because it has cornmeal as a main ingredient doesn't mean it is gluten-free. Not to worry... plain old brown rice flour is a pretty good substitute for wheat flour in pretty much any recipe. But as I learned last night, you can make superior cornbread if you use just a few extra ingredients (including some tapioca starch that I finally found and tried out!) to bump up the quality of the flour substitution.

I've made cornbread GF style many times, but this time was definitely the best. It didn't crumble and fall all to pieces when you tried to put butter on it. Heck, I think it held together even better than my old homemade cornbread with gluten normally did. Plus I made it in muffins, so it came in a convenient little package that I didn't even have to cut! Definitely doing that again in the future.


Recipe adapted from this one from Allrecipes.com.

CORNBREAD MUFFINS

Ingredients:
1 c. buttermilk*
½ c. butter
½ c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 c. cornmeal
1/3 c. brown rice flour
1/3 c. tapioca starch (corn or potato starch will work, but tapioca is finer)
1/3 c. sorghum flour
½ tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt


*Can be made using milk or milk substitute plus 1-2 tsp. of white vinegar or lemon juice. Let stand for 5 minutes before adding to batter.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease muffin tin (or 8-in square pan). If not using true buttermilk, prep using milk and vinegar or lemon juice (as described above).
2. Melt butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Allow to cool a bit.
3. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. (Using a whisk is helpful.)
4. Whisk eggs into butter and sugar. Add this mixture and buttermilk to dry ingredients and mix well.
5. Pour into prepared tin (or pan). Bake for 20 minutes for muffins (or about 30-40 min. for bread, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). I recommend turning the tin or pan about halfway through if your oven cooks unevenly as mine does!

These are pretty tasty by themselves (especially while fresh and warm), but I couldn't resist adding butter and honey on mine. Mmm...!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fried White Fish with Quinoa

I surprised myself about a week ago with a new recipe that turned out more nicely than I could have hoped. I've thought about holding off posting this recipe until the next time I make it, but since it's about time I posted a new recipe, and since I probably won't be making this again for at least a couple of weeks (I forgot a few of the ingredients at the store this week and I'll be out of town next week), I figured I might as well put it up. I am sure to make it soon after I get back, though, because I have been craving it ever since I finished it off! I'll add a picture to this post at that point. (Updated 9/17/11 with picture!)

It was one of those nights when I had no idea what I was going to make for dinner until I meandered into the kitchen about an hour before dinnertime to check out what ingredients I had handy. (I am usually more of a planner than this, but these days happen to the best of us, right?) So, I had some white fish in the freezer... some mushrooms... some capers left over from another recipe... some quinoa in the pantry, and other random products that I usually have hanging around the kitchen. I peaked at Allrecipes.com for some inspiration, and saw something about fish with capers and tomatoes. All I had was diced tomatoes... Could all those ingredients come together somehow? I donned my "Chopped" thinking cap, and the recipe below was born. I honestly couldn't believe how well the flavors combined and how much I liked it. If you try it, let me know what you think! (And put me in my place if you disagree with my taste buds... but I am practically drooling right now thinking about this.)


FRIED WHITE FISH WITH QUINOA

Ingredients:
1 ½ lbs. white fish (I used 3 skai fillets)
3/8 c. brown rice flour
3/8 c. powdered Parmesan cheese*
¼ tsp. pepper
1 ½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ c. milk (or milk substitute)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 egg
vegetable oil (enough for frying)

1 c. quinoa
1 ½ c. chicken broth**
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes
¼ c. capers, drained

2 c. chopped mushrooms
1 c. chopped onions
½ tbs. butter or oil

Directions:
1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa, broth, tomatoes, and capers. Bring to a boil, lower heat; cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. (If this sits for a while or even completely cools, it should still taste fine. I actually preferred it that way.)
2. While quinoa is cooking, combine milk, egg, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Then on a large plate or in a large bowl, combine flour, cheese, pepper, and thyme. If fish is soggy (as it will be if frozen and defrosted), pat dry with a paper towel. Dip the fish in the liquid mixture, then coat with the flour and cheese mixture.
3. In a large saucepan, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan by about a quarter or half an inch. Fry fish until the breading is golden brown, and fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. (Cook time will vary depending on type and thickness of fish, but should be around 3-5 minutes per side.)
4. In a separate pan, saute mushrooms and onions in ½ tbs. butter or oil until crisp-tender (about 3 minutes).
5. Plate by placing a serving of quinoa down, then a portion of fish, then topping with mushrooms and onions. Enjoy!

*Sorry... While this recipe is low on dairy, it is not totally dairy-free. The cheese definitely adds a lot to this dish in my opinion, but if you can't have it, I would try using about this much more rice flour, cornmeal, or some other grain flour, and adding ½ to 1 tsp. salt.
**This is the main reason I didn't post this recipe right away... I think the liquid here needed adjustment. I used 2 cups of broth, and it was a bit too watery. If you want a more accurate measurement, I would drain the juice from the diced tomatoes into a measuring cup, add it to the pot, and then reduce the 2 cups of broth by that amount. (I'm estimating the tomato liquid would be about ½ a cup, hence my 1 ½ cups of broth recommendation above.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spicy Fajita-Style Chicken Rub

I often find myself wanting to make chicken fajitas, but I rarely think far enough ahead to actually marinate the meat. Gotta wait till next time, right? Wrong! This rub will have the chicken ready to cook within about 10 minutes. And I actually surprised myself with how good it tasted. Even my picky 2 and 4-year-olds gobbled this up and asked for seconds! I should have thought to take a picture beforehand, because we ate it all up last night... no leftovers. Oops!

(Edited 9/12/11 to include picture):


SPICY FAJITA-STYLE CHICKEN RUB

Ingredients:
1 ½ tsp. rubbed sage
1 ½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. thyme
1 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper*
2 lbs. chicken breasts
2 tbs. vegetable oil

Directions:
Pound chicken to even thickness, about ½ to ¾ inch. Rub both sides of each piece of chicken with spice rub. Heat oil in a large skillet and pan fry chicken over medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. After removing from pan, let sit for at least 15 minutes to seal in the juices. Cut into slices for fajitas or just good ol' chicken strips.

* This was enough pepper for my kids and me (who don't like things terribly spicy), but it could use a little extra pepper or some cayenne if you like a lot of spice. The chili powder and paprika do add a little kick, though. And my husband, who adds Tabasco sauce to pretty much everything, didn't seem to think it necessary to add anything extra. :-)