Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gluten Free Bread

I did a little experiment with gluten.  I did not eat it for three weeks.  I did see some changes in the things that were bothering me health wise.  But the most significant was the swelling in my joints.  I have heard people talk about this before.  I suspected they were right but was it true for me.  Well, that question is answered, the other day I had two pieces of bread.  It was like a meal, delicious, warm home made bread.  The next morning I woke up and my hands were aching.  My one hand was a bit swollen.  And I had my middle of the night stomach ache.  When I wasn't eating gluten those middle of the night stomach aches were gone.  Not a one.  I don't think I have Celiac disease, but I am not a doctor.  I do wonder if maybe I am allergic to gluten.  In any case, it doesn't matter, it will pretty much be off the menu for me.

All that being said, I have to have bread once in a while.  I like a slice with eggs in the morning and I do like a sandwich once in a while.  I am on the hunt for good gluten free bread.  This one was an excellent start to my search.  For some amazing tips on gluten, the ins and outs of baking gluten free bread, go here to Allergy Free Alaska.  There is a lot of great tips to be had.

Don't worry, my blog is not going gluten free, my kids and my husband are not, so, I will continue to make bread and all that other jazz.  But, I will throw some gluten free recipes in here from time to time.

Gluten Free Bread

4 cups Flour Blend (see below)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon gluten-free egg replacer
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup powdered milk
3 large eggs at room temperature
¼ cup butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
⅓ cup honey
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast 
2 cups warm water

First, use a cup of water and sprinkle in the yeast.  Let sit for about five minutes.  It will turn foamy.  In a mixer or with a blender in a bowl, combine eggs, honey, vinegar and butter.  In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  Whisk the dry ingredients together.  Pour the dry ingredients into the mixer and add the cup of water with the yeast.  Refill the same cup with another cup of water to get the rest of the yeast out that may be lingering on the sides.  Add it all in.  Let mixer run for about five minutes.  This is real important because it incorporates air in to the batter.*  Pour into 2 sprayed or greased 8 1/2 x 5 loaf pans. Let this dough rise for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Bake in a preheated 375F oven for about 50 to 60 minutes.  The loaves need to have an internal temperature of 200F and up to 208F.  Remove from loaf pans, onto wire racks and let cool completely.  They will finish their baking process as they cool.

Flour Blend
1 1/3 cups brown rice flour
1 1/3 cups tapioca flour
1 1/3 cups corn starch
1 tablespoon potato flour

*Normally, when you bake bread with regular flour, the gluten reacts with the yeast to form pockets of gas that make the bread airy and light.  Because there is no gluten in this bread you need to rely on the air that you incorporate into it.

April 1st: I just wanted to update here and tell you about the bread I made today.  Followed this recipe except I used 1 1/3 cups sorghum flour instead of tapioca flour.  I also used 2 tablespoons of egg replacer- not sure how much of an impact that had, probably was the change in flour.  It was texturally even better than this bread above .  Flavor- even better as well.  This will be a permanent change for me.  Will be using it as a pizza dough later this week.  Will let you know how that goes.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chicken in Lettuce Cups

Yes, I added a little cilantro, but thats just how I roll.

This reminds me a lot of PF Chang's lettuce cups, only not quite as salty.  My older daughter came home from school and gasped, "Ew, mushrooms? Mom, you know I don't like mushrooms."

"Ah, but last summer my dear, you tried one and you liked it - remember?"

"Okay I will try it."  She had a bite and said the mushroom tasted exactly like the chicken.  Well, yeah.  We could even make this totally vegan with some different kinds of mushrooms.  I am quite sure I would like it.
 Little hands getting busy.  They really had a lot of fun putting this together.

Some of the components.  I like to separate the lettuce because it is not necessarily easy to do this without tearing it.  This makes it so much easier.

Chicken in Lettuce Cups

2  tablespoons oil
5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup water chestnuts, chopped
3 cups white mushrooms, chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion 
1 teaspoon minced garlic
leaves of iceberg lettuce
Drizzle Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon hot mustard or dijon
2 teaspoons water
1 -2 teaspoon garlic and red chile paste

Stir Fry Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

(Make sure you are preparing your rice.  A very nice accompaniment.)

Before you begin, prepare your sauces.  You will be so happy you did this ahead of time.  Matter of fact,if you can do everything mise en place, then even better.  This will all go rather fast.
In a frying pan sauté the chicken thighs in 1 tablespoon of oil.  Cook through.  Remove from pan and let cool so you can cut it.  Unless you like playing with your kitchen scissors like me.  Then in the case, you don't even need to let them cool.

While the chicken is cooling, or not, sauté the mushrooms and onion in the remaining tablespoon of oil.When everything is looking nearly done, onion translucent, add in the garlic.  Then after a minute, the water chestnuts.  Add in your chopped chicken and to that add the stir fry sauce.  Basically its teriyaki, but we will call it stir fry sauce.

Remove from heat and place in individual bowls, like we did or one big bowl.  Make sure everyone had a little bit of sauce and some rice.  Build your little cups a heaping tablespoon of chicken, a heaping tablespoon of rice and a little bit of the drizzle sauce.  Roll it up and get a bite of that yumminess.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

This is my lunch today.  After working out two times yesterday, I was totally ready for it.  It tasted incredible.  It's a very simple deal, comes together quickly if you have leftovers. I usually try and keep some kind of cooked grain in my fridge- quinoa, rice, wheat berries, whatever.  This is a one person serving.  You obviously can quadruple it for four.  Uppa to you.  You may want to keep it a secret because then you can eat it all yourself.  I thought of the combination because of some African dishes I have had with sweet potatoes and peanuts.  Didn't have peanuts so I subbed in cashews.  Awwww, so good.

The thing about salads is you can do whatever you like once you have the basic ideas of what a hearty meal type salad should be comprised of.  Its not rocket science.   All you need is some protein, some carbs, some veggies, some acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) and some oil.  At least that is kind of the equation I use.  I throw in some aromatics (like garlic or cilantro or parsley) or seasonings (spices like Herbes de Provence) depending on my mood.  So, you could do whatever, depending on your mood.  But the nice thing about people posting their salads, like me, is it gives you a plethora of ideas.  I always look for reasons to say that word 'plethora", I feel so official.  Anyway, once you have seen your jazzy ideas here or some other blog pull together your own dang, amazing salad.  Then by all means post it to share it with the rest of us so we can be inspired.

All of this amazing salad for about 450 calories.  It's filling too!

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad 

I used a flavored vinegar that I bought at one of those delicious vinegar and oil places.  So freaking delicious.  Its no joke when I tell you I measure out a tablespoon and drink it just to get the flavor of it in my mouth.  Swoon.

Printable here.

1 tablespoon grapefruit vinegar (or cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon olive oil, with one teaspoon removed from it to saute the sweet potato
1 sweet potato, chopped- about 115 grams or a 1/2 cup
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
1/3 cup sweet onion, chopped
garlic powder to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup cashews

Sauté the sweet potato in about a teaspoon of olive oil.  You can sauté the onion too but I like the crunch of nearly raw ones.  In a bowl, heat the quinoa with the onions in the microwave.  Once the quinoa and onions are heated, add to it the cilantro, seasonings, olive oil, vinegar and cashews.  Once your sweet potatoes are done, toss that in.  And voilà - fairly quick meal, filled with nutrients and satisfying flavors

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dum Aloo

Strange (strange because they can be kinda picky)... but after having Indian food in the house for so long now, my children are starting to dig it.  I am doing a happy dance.  I made this dish the other day and they actually ate quite a bit of it.  It was POW!-kinda-flavorful.  Delicious, creamy and kid approved- at least in my house. 

Dum Aloo
Don't know about you but I really like saying the name of the potatoes, why? because I am just goofy like that.  The idea for this dish came from here but really, I changed A LOT.  Since my kids liked it and we liked it of course, I would definitely make it again-  Hopefully, the next time with cilantro.

5 potatoes cut in chunks
1 large onion, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste (if I had some fresh I would have used them)
3 cups cottage cheese (because I had no yogurt)
1  teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 or 2 green cardamom pods
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon Garam Masala powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cilantro – for garnish
In a pot, boil potatoes or place in water and heat in microwave. 

While the potatoes are cooking prepare the gravy/curry.  In a deep frying pan heat oil or ghee and add to it: cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick and split-open cardamom pods. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Now, add chopped onions. Sauté for at least 6 to 8 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the remaining spices – turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala powder and salt. Sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add in cottage cheese, mix throughly.  Add mostly done potatoes to the gravy.  Cover and simmer on low for a couple minutes, stirring occasionally.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Salisbury Steak

Just could not take a stellar picture the both times I have made this in the past couple months.  However you could head over to One Perfect Bite for the original recipe and an amazing photo of it.  Mary, the author of the blog, is an amazing woman.  She has won recipes contests.  What does that say about the lady?  Damn. Good. Food.  This is no exception.  Delicious. I did say I made it twice over the past couple months, right?

Salisbury Steak
Recipe here from One Perfect Bite

Onion Gravy
3 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

Meat Patties
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup cooked white rice
2  large egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 clove minced garlic
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
My daughters dinner plate- second time I made it.
For the gravy: Sauté onions in a skillet large enough to hold the gravy. Cook over medium-high heat, until onions start to brown, stirring occasionally.  When onions are a deep honey brown.  Carmelizing onions is a slow process but totally worth the time you take in doing so. Stir in flour and cook for about 2 minutes- you want the flour a bit browned too. Add wine, beef broth and tomato paste. Stir in cider vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

For the patties: Mix ground beef, rice, egg yolk, salt, pepper, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, parsley and thyme in a bowl. Shape into 4 oval patties about 3/4-inch thick. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat. Sear patties about 3 minutes per side, or until a brown crust forms. Pour gravy over patties and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sweet Potato and Garbanzo Bean Salad

This is one of those times when something doesn't stay long enough to set up a good shot to show you how freaking amazing something was.  It is at these times you should say to yourself- it must have been real good.  Oh yes, it was real good.  This is one of those salads, that like my rocket and asparagus salad will be showing up on our table over and over again.  Its just that good.

Lets talk about allspice.  Allspice may be that longer forgotten friend in your spice cabinet.  Don't sell it short if it is.  When used in small quantities, like in this dish or tomato anything (salad, sauce...) it adds something.  Something you cant quite get your finger on but its good- real good.  I add it to tomato salad all the time.  It was during a Daring Cooks Challenge when I led it for stuffed grape leaves.  See the post here.  I thought, allspice, in tomato salad?  Seriously, this is going to ruin my wonderful tomatoes.  Ah, wrong.  Sooo good.

Sweet Potato and Garbanzo Bean Salad
Printable here.

2 sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or pumpkin, diced
1 small purple onion, sweet onion, or shallot
1 can chick peas or 2 cups if you soak and boil your own
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tablespoons water
3 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of sea salt
crushed black pepper
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 teaspoon allspice

If you have time roast your sweet potato, if not a quick boil is fine.  Heat until tender.

Meanwhile, chop onion.  If you are using a purple onion you can tone down its bite by placing in a small bowl and pouring some hot water over it.  Leave it in the hot water while you prepare everything else and you will find it is quite mellow when done.

In your serving bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, water, tahini, garlic, salt and pepper and allspince.  Add to it the garbanzo beans, onion, sweet potato and cilantro.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Energy Bites

Don't make these, whatever you do, don't make these.... Ah, but they are so easy, delicious, so good for you... don't make these.

I am glad this was a small recipe.  I would not make these again because they were so dang poppable in my mouth. Delicious and satisfying.

No Bake Energy Bites

1 cup rolled oats
⅓ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup chunky peanut butter
½ cup ground flax seed
½ cup chocolate chips
⅓ cup raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all together and roll into balls.

Calories are 2,388 for total recipe.  I made 20 balls so that is about 120 per ball.  The chocolate chips alone are 560.  If you put in a 1/4 cup instead that would drop it by 80 calories and also lower the sugar.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Black Bean Soup: Southwestern Style

I like to give new recipes a try even though I already have favorites.  I love my black bean soup.  I have been making it for years.  But I wanted to try one with a Southwestern flare.

I use to love to watch Daisy Martinez on PBS.  I love the Puerto Rican dishes she made but I also loved the great tips she gave as she worked on the meals.  One in particular I use all the time when making beans.  To gauge the liquid for the beans (after soaking), place broth or water in with the beans and then either stick your finger in or put in a wooden spoon.  Just touch the surface of the beans.  The liquid should come up to your first knuckle or about an inch on the wooden spoon.  This will give you the right amount of liquid.  Works every time. Thanks Daisy!

I liked the recipe but found it needed some acid to brighten things up a bit.  I added cider vinegar towards the end.  In hindsight, I think lime juice would have been better.  You could even add a little tomato paste or even salsa for a little flare.  I liked the soup, it was a nice change but honestly I like mine just a tad more.But for a South Western flare- this is the ticket.

Black Bean Soup
Printable here.

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrot chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 bag black beans, soaked overnight
2 quarts + broth* (enough to cover the beans by one inch)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon liquid smoke or more if you like
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon cumin ( happen to love cumin)
1 tablespoon chili powder
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Sauté onion, carrot and celery in oil until onion is translucent.  Add green peppers and sauté until everything is a bit golden.  Add in broth, soaked beans, spices, and liquid smoke.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat so that the soup is at a gentle simmer.  Let simmer for about an hour- beans should be very tender.  Puree. Serve with accoutriments such as cilantro, avocado, lime juice, salsa.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Seed Bread

This is an easy bread to make - no kneading involved. My husband loves it.  I was liking it until I became suspicious that I might have a gluten thing going on.  So I have given up gluten for a couple weeks to see what happens.  No harm done.  Hopefully I am wrong because that is not an easy thing to do.  I have compassion for Celiac disease.  My Aunt has it and my friends Mom has it.   It is quite serious if you ignore it.  I think people in general might not know that.  They may think it is a fad.  But you know if you have Celiac and it goes untreated then you are not absorbing some key things in your diet.  At least two that I can think of right off the bat- Vitamin D and iron.  There are others in addition to these.  Because of these potential deficiencies, secondary problems can occur.  If you would like to learn more,  go here to Celiac Disease NIH or here to a site called Canadian Celiac Association or here, to Celiac Support.

I can tell you when I did have this bread, it was simply amazing.  Its toothsome and it satisfies.

Breakfast Seed Bread
Printable here.

2 cups buttermilk
14 oz preserves of some kind, mixed berry is a great choice
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup flaxseeds
1 cup oat bran
1½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup wheat germ
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 390°F. Prepare loaf pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the buttermilk with the preserves sauce in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into loaf pan. Bake the loaf for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until it has reached an inner temperature of 200°F.

Take the loaf out of the pan and let cool on a rack. Let it cool thoroughly to prevent the inside from being gooey when you cut it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chicken Wing Balls

I love chicken wings, but probably more specifically, Frank's Red Hot Sauce.  Don't tell me anything bad about Frank's Red Hot Sauce.  I dont want to know.  I have had Franks over popcorn, pizza, wings, chicken, whatever for many years.

I dont do the wing thing too often anymore.  In my 20's, yes, but have since slowed way down with wings.  Too many calories.  I did a post about baked wings- they are very good, but honestly, I just dont think about buying wings when I go to the store.  Besides, they used to be inexpensive, now- not so much.

This chicken ball with Frank's is like wings- less calories and more substantial.  We loved it.  Dipped in a little of my home made blue cheese and I was totally loving it- a real treat. I served it along side some rice and a big plate of celery sticks and carrot sticks.

Chicken Wing Balls
Printable here.

2 pounds ground chicken
2 egg
1 3/4 cups Progresso panko breadcrumbs or more depending on consistency
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground pepper
3 cups buffalo sauce
blue cheese dressing

Mix the ground chicken with the rest of the ingredients except the panko until it feels like you can ball it together. Add in the panko. If it feels sticky add more panko. If by chance you added a bit too much panko add a little water (tablespoon by tablespoon).

Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on parchment lined cooking sheet.  Bake in a 400F oven for about 5 (crock pot) to 10 minutes (Dutch oven).  Add the meatballs to a crock pot or a Dutch oven and pour in the Franks. Make sure the meat balls are covered.  If you don't have enough sauce you can use less just make sure you stir it periodically to ensure maximum yum coverage. Cook in slow cooker for about 2 hours.  In the Dutch oven for about 45 minutes to an hour on a very low heat.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Graham Crackers

I admit it, I am a bit of a flour hoarder.  I was on this kick last year of making bread and I bought all kinds of flours- spelt, semolina, durum, you name it.  I cant stand the clutter and I am not using this stuff.  So, now, I am making bread and crackers or whatever to use this stuff up before it gets yucky.  I have a bottle of oat bran that I do use occasionally for granola bars- I just throw it in the mix instead of wheat germ, but I don't always use it and there was just this little bit left, so, I threw it into the graham crackers.  Worked perfectly. If you dont have any- no worries- you can replace it with regular flour or whatever you like. 
Graham Crackers
Printable here.

1 cup whole wheat flour (I added a bit more because my dough was a wee bit wet)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup oat bran
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon  baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. (honestly, this time I did not refrigerate the dough at all).

On a parchment sheet, roll the dough as thins as possible. You can lay plastic wrap over top to help you roll it out as it tends to be sticky.  The thinner, the better. I have a really large pan so this works for me.  You can use two cookie sheets instead. Score the rolled dough.  This will help you break it apart when you pull it out of the oven and the holes will help the dough stay flat rather than doing a puff thing.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake until golden- about 15 minutes.  They will continue to harden as they cool as well.  Run the blade over the lines you previously cut as soon as you take them out of the oven.

Alternately, you can cut and separate before baking but I just wanted them faster.