Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rye Bread

If there is any kind of bread I miss eating- its rye.  I couldn't help it yesterday and had a slice (yes, I paid for it) but it was oh so good.  The bread has so much flavor.  Due largely in part to the barley malt syrup and the onion- though I think it is all of these things.  It really taste like pumpernickel.  In fact I was torn about calling it pumpernickel or calling it rye.  ???? 

Rye Bread

1/2 cup dried minced onion
1 heaping tablespoon barley malt (place in a measuring cup and pour molasses on top until you reach 2/3's of a cup
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups rye flour
5 cups bread flour
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (2 packages)
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons caraway seeds or powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder

In a measuring cup stir some of the molasses with all of the water.  Sprinkle yeast on top.  Set aside.

in a large bowl, combine salt, flours, caraway, cocoa powder and onion.  Stir until mixed well.  Add in the yeast when it begins to be foamy. Mix it all up and then add about half of the oil to the dough.  If you find it to wet (depending on humidity) add more flour.  If it is a bit on the dry side add a touch of water (a tablespoon or so).  Spread a little oil on the counter.  Turn dough out and begin to knead. Knead for about 7 minutes. The oil helps with sticking.  It is better to knead without incorporating to much flour as it will make your bread more dense.

Clean bowl and put about a teaspoon of oil in it.  Place dough ball in bowl. Cover and let rise for about an hour.

Prepare two loaf pans.

Remove dough from bowl and divide into two loaves.  Fold over itself in thirds like you would fold a business letter.  Pinch closed and place seam side down in the loaf pan. Let rise again for about a half of an hour to 45 minutes.  Before it is done rising, preheat the oven to 350F.  Place loaf pans on middle rack and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool before cutting.  I know its killer but your bread will be less doughy.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Granola Bites

Some beautiful; Spring weather around here yesterday and today.  We were able to enjoy a lot of time outside yesterday. We went looking for tad poles. When I was a kid I would ride my bike down to this little creek about 3/4 of a mile away from my house and gather up some tad poles.  I would bring them home and watch them grow into little frogs, then I would take them back to the creek or release them.

I wanted my daughters to enjoy that so my husband and I decided to take them. I think we were too early, maybe- no tadpoles yet... I will keep you posted.

I tasted these at a Potluck sort of thing.  Asked the lady for the recipe because I had to have it.  Love these.  

Granola Bites

3/4 cup pancake syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter or oil
3 cups oats, toasted
1/4 cup chocolate chips or candy coated chocolate
3 tablespoons peanut butter ( a bit heaping)
handful of sliced almonds
1/2 cup sweetened coconut

In a 350F oven toast the oatmeal on a cookie sheet until lightly golden.

While the oats are toasting, gather up your ingredients.  In a saucepan place sugar, syrup, oil/butter and peanut butter.  Place on medium heat and melt.  Whisk together until it bubbles.  In a large mixing bowl, place coconut and almonds.  When oats are done put in mixing bowl.  Pour heated peanut butter mixture into oat mixture and stir.  Spoon into a parchment lined 8 x 8 baking pan.  Using the back of a spatula push down ont he mixture, until flat and even.  When a little cool sprinkle chocolate chips on top.  Cut when somewhat cooled but before it is too hard. Let cool completely.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Gluten Free Pizza

No sense feeling left out when the rest of the family is enjoying pizza, make your own gluten free pizza.  Woot woot.

When I was away in Lancaster last month I ate at a pizza shop called, A Slice Of Brooklyn Pizzeria. I ordered the gluten free pizza and it was fantastic!  I figured if they could do it so could I sense Lancaster is a bit far to go for pizza.

This is a very good dough but it has to be done in a certain way- if you are making pizza for the gang - you need to be the last one served.  There is no getting around that if you want a warm slice of pizza.  Or you can be like me and just eat it a bit on the cold side.  You see a regular pizza takes about ten minutes in a hot oven.  This takes about 20 minutes.  It's a timing thing. So I had prebaked my shell and then made my families pizza.  Stuck mine in the oven to basically melt the cheese.

Hmm.  I just thought, maybe if I use my toaster oven while my family's pizza was in the oven.  Something to try for next time.
Look at those little pockets of air in there. 
Gluten Free Pizza
Largely adapted from Fool Proof Pizza at Allergy Free Alaska

1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg (room temperature)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 

1 tablespoon honey
3/4 cup hot water (between 105 – 115 degrees F)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast  

In a measuring cup mix the honey with the warm water and sprinkle yeast over top.  Set aside.

In a large bowl or mixer combine all the dry ingredients- the flours, the salt, the baking powder and tapioca starch.  When the yeast mixture is foamy add it to the flours with the oil cider vinegar and egg.  Let the mixer run for four minutes.  If you are mixing in a bowl- mix with a whisk until your hands fall off.  Well, okay maybe not that long but you need to whisk to incorporate air- this is going to help your pizza have some lift.  So you need to whisk for at least five minutes. If you are a pro at it shoot for 7 minutes.

On a baking sheet, spread out a piece of parchment.  Smooth dough onto two different sheets of parchment paper.  Let rise for about 40 minutes.  Bake the pizza at 425F for about 10 minutes.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Cheese Blintz Casserole, Gluten Free

My Grandmother, who was 100% Polish made blintzes often.  She would roll the cottage cheese up into the crepes and place in a 9 x 13 and bake it.  When it came out of the oven it would get slathered with applesauce and enjoyed by everyone.

I have been wanting to make cheese blintzes but wanted to give gluten free crepes a go.  I modified and made the crepes. (If you want a great crepe recipe with regular all purpose flour, click here).  Fortunately, I had some luck on my side because they came out pretty good.  The first one was a wreck, but then it always is, even with regular flour.  After that, I began to get the hang of how they worked, what to do and what not to do.

Here are some rules for making Gluten Free Crepes

1.  Make sure your eggs are room temperature.

2.  Use a non stick skillet- no butter or spray- straight on.

3.  Let them be a little thick rather than spreading the out a little too thin. The gluten free does not have the "glue" that regular flour has to hold it together.  They are very delicate- the thinner they go, the more risk of breakage.  And honestly they are so light even thicker.

4. Let the crepe lose its gloss before you flip it.  This is also true with pancakes, if it is shiny- don't flip.

5. Have your flame a little below medium. You don't want your pan too hot. No sizzling.

After making all my crepes I made my filling.  The cottage cheese that I was using was way too runny- bummer- should have bought the good stuff.  I decided to go with a crepe and cheese layered blintz casserole.

There is nothing better than a casserole.  You get most of your prep dishes out of the way before you even sit down to dinner.  Then you just have your serving dish and plates.  Beautiful!
Torn crepe- this always happens with the first one.
Gluten Free Cheese Blintze Casserole


1 cup gluten free flour blend, your choice
1 1/2 tablespoons arrow root powder (or cornstarch)
4 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups 2% milk


48 ounces cottage cheese
5 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons arrow root powder (or cornstarch)
Getting better with practice.
Make the crepes: Whisk the eggs, milk, butter, sugar and salt together until combined and a bit whipped- about a couple minutes.  In a smaller bowl whisk the flours together and then add enough of the liquid to make a paste.  Whisk the paste into the larger bowl, combining all of it.  (making the paste will reduce the lumps that might form).

Take out a 1/3 of a cup and carefully pour it onto the skillet, slowly.  Move the skillet around so that your crepe is somewhat circular.  This does take practice. Before you take out your next 1/3 of a cup to put on the skillet, make sure you stir as stuff will settle between crepes.

Repeat process until all the crepes are made.

Make the filling:  Combine the cottage cheese, eggs, sugar, vanilla and arrow root powder in a large bowl.

Make the casserole: Spray non stick cooking spray in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  Make a layer of crepes to cover the bottom and a little up the sides.

Spoon 1/2 of filling over crepes.  Cover with another layer of crepes.  Spoon the remainder of the filling over the crepes.  Layer once again with crepes over top.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 minutes.  Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes so it sets up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Onion Mustard Pretzels

I bought a ton of different kinds of pretzels when I was in Lancaster with some friends last month.  One of the pretzel kinds I bought just didn't get eaten.  No one was really interested in it.  I thought, how do I make it so they eat it.  Nothing goes to waste around here.  I decided to flavor them up with mustard.

Onion Mustard Pretzels

1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup oil
2 generous teaspoons of onion powder
2 heaping (globbed) tablespoons of honey

Whisk it together.  Stir the coating into the pretzels in a large bowl.  Bake them spread out on a cookie sheet at 275F.  It took about a half of an hour to dry them out.  I wasn't totally convinced they were dried out either but I took them out of the oven and as they cooled they dried more and crisped up nice.

Gone, just like that.  Pretzels, what pretzels?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

Rizzi from The New York Baking Company contacted me and asked me to do a review of these Silicone Baking Cups. The retail value of these cups is $9.95.  You can find them here at Amazon.

I buy cup cake liners all the time, especially when I see them on sale. I always wondered about these liners and whether or not I would like them. How exciting to be asked to do an honest review of them.  

Part of me was a bit nervous about them because of the silicone- would this be a good thing?  Would any chemicals go into the muffins?  This is my only concern.  After researching a bit, there is not a whole lot of information in regard to this.  Dr. Weil, who I happen to respect and trust. Read more about it here. (Yes, I twisted them (as suggested by Dr. Weil) to see if there was any white and, no, I did not see any white, which should mean there are no fillers.

As far as the performance of these muffins cups- love them.  The muffins raised up real nice and the muffins came out of the silicone very easily both when warmed and completely cooled.  The muffin cups were pretty easy to clean afterward.

The muffin cups are very economical. You buy them one time and don't have to keep buying cupcake liners.  The price of these silicone cups is pretty reasonable too- $9.95.

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 cups blueberries, frozen
Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix the dry ingredients, set aside.  Mix the wet ingredients.  Mix the wet with the dry just until combined.  Add in frozen blueberries. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling two thirds full. No need to spray these- the muffins come out easily.
Muffin removed when warm.
Muffin removed when completely cooled in muffin cup.

The muffin cups were given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mexican Polenta Bake

My kids and husband love what I call, Mexican Lasagna.  It is basically layers of tortillas with all the stuff we Americans associate with Mexican food- well at least I do.  Add a litttle cheese on top and voila!  Done! 

I had no tortilla's this time but plenty of polenta so I changed it up a bit. I like the end result but I would put a layer of polenta at the bottom as well to absorb some of those juices. As you can see by the pic below, it was a wee bit juicy.  I did have double the amount of salsa written in the recipe.  Why I did that, I dont know. 

I loved the layer of polenta!

Mexican Polenta Bake

1 jar of salsa (16 ounces)
1 pound beef or sausage (chorizo)
2 cups corn
1 can black beans or pinto, drained
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup roasted pablano peppers, if you like some heat (optional)
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups polenta
6 cups water
12 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can black olives, sliced
s and p to taste

Sauté the chopped peppers and onions, place in casserole dish.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Sauté beef or sausage until browned.  Mix everything into the casserole dish, except the cheese and black olives.

In a saucepan place your water and sprinkle some salt in, bring it to a boil.  Slowly pour the polenta in kind of sprinkling and stirring at the same time, to avoid lumps.  I often will add my polenta just before boiling.  I find it lumps less. Cook the polenta on a lower heat, stirring often. It will thicken- then you know it is ready.  Pour polenta over the casserole, evenly.  Add cheese on top and cover and bake 30 to 40 minutes. 

Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and place back int he oven or under the broiler.  Sprinkle sliced black olives over top. Garnish with sour cream if desired.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Asparagus With Eggs

Something easy, something delicious, and something oh-so-Spring like.

Asparagus is one of my favorite things to eat in Spring.  Pair it with some eggs - even better.  I saw this idea at The Kitchn.  I like that site a lot.  VIsit it often.  Very practical recipes and ideas. I liked the idea of addising some Parmesan cheese.  I threw in the radishes because I love them and they look awful pretty there, dont they.  They tasted great together.

This is a very low cal meal.  Even with two eggs, it is about 275 for the whole meal.  How can you go wrong?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Creamy Parsnip Soup

If you asked me if I like parsnips last summer I would have said, nu uh.  A few years ago I bought some and they were so fragrant, almost imparting perfume after they were cooked.  Bleck.  Totally turned me off.  I was not interested in ever eating them again.

I always tell people if you try a vegetable and you don't like it, don't give up on it.  Try it again. Often it is how it is cooked or whether it is fresh or not.  These things can totally affect its taste.

I had to follow my own advice.

While on vacation to a quilt show in Lancaster, PA, I was very tempted to order a soup for lunch called Cream of Parsnip soup. Another entre won out.  My friend, however, ordered it and shared a bit of the soup with me. OMG.  Luscious, delicious, creamy velvety soup.  At that moment I thought I have to make a soup like this.  I did a search on the Internet for the soup and used a couple recipes kind of as a jumping off point.

Creamy Parsnip Soup

1 pound parsnips, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
1 quart chicken stock*
crispy, crumbled bacon

In a soup pot sauté the parsnips, celery and onion in butter.  Sauté until lightly golden.  Add in garlic, cook one minute more.  Add is stock and bay leaves.  Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Just before serving add in the heavy cream.  Remove from heat and serve.

Garnish with bacon if you like.  Oh yeah, I like!

* I also used a cup of asparagus water that I had boiled some asparagus in.  You could definitely use vegetable stock for this recipe.  The flavor of parsnips is pretty strong so it will shine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Almond Granola Bars

These granolas are chewy and tasty.  I really like the texture of these. They are not very sweet.  If you wish them to be sweeter add sugar or honey.  I don't mind them less sweet, really.  My one daughter loves them for breakfast.  My other daughter does not like them as much because they are not sweet enough.
Package them all up and ship them off in your kids lunches. Or grab one to go on the way to work.  They are something substantial for you to eat and are good for you.


I like to wrap them in wax paper. You can use stickers to seal the paper.

Almond Granola Bars

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2 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (optional
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix dry ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips.  Mix in the milk and butter.  It will be hard to mix, very dry but keep going, it will come together.  If you need to add a couple tablespoons of milk that will help. About mid way through the mixing process add in the chocolate chips.

Spread out in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes.  Edges should be golden.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Coconut Chocolate Bars

These are really good.  They are practically walking out of here.   My girls have been enjoying them in their lunches.

Coconut Chocolate Bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups flaked coconut (I used frozen grated, fresh coconut from Goya)
1 (12 ounce) package dark chocolate chips

In a 9 x 13 baking pan, combine melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and almond meal.  Mix together well.  Press evenly over bottom and place in preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and pour the condensed milk/ coconut mixture evenly over top.  Place back in oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  The edges should be a bit golden.  If you use dry flaked coconut, place in oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over top.  Wait a few moments and spread the chocolate over top.  Let cool completely and cut with a sharp knife into squares.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chocolate Cake, In A Mug, Regular and Gluten Free

Last night after returning home from a night out with my husband, I decided to make this for me and my girls.  I had ordered a vegetarian meal, which was pretty light and the pita that came with it was of course made with regular flour so I could not eat that.  Honestly, I was still kinda hungry when I came home.  I thought this would be fun for the girls.  Portion is controlled which is perfect.  It really was perfect.  I like that I can give the girls a treat once in a while without making a whole batch of something.

As far the pics go- this was emergency chocolate cake in the evening.  Not chocolate cake, decorate it, plan it and shoot it from all angles with the camera kinda cake.  Get over it- their pics. When you taste it, it will taste way better than this picture looks.

I have to say this is very good chocolate cake.  And it was gluten free, well, the one I had- you would never know.  It was so very delicious. In case you are wondering- it's about 275 calories.

Emergency Chocolate Cake

2 tablespoon cake flour (or regular...)
2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoon milk
2 tsp oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips or whatever your little heart desires

Put all dry ingredients in mug and stir with a fork until smooth. In a little bowl mix the milk, oil and vanilla and add to the dry mix in the mug.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Microwave for 1 minute. Allow to cool a minute or two before eating.  Can you stand it?

Emergency Chocolate Cake

1 tablespoon tapioca flour

1 tablespoon brown rice flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips or whatever your little heart desires

Put all dry ingredients in mug and stir with a fork until smooth. In a little bowl mix the milk, oil and vanilla and add to the dry mix in the mug.  Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Microwave for 1 minute 10 seconds. Allow to cool a minute or two before eating.  Can you stand it?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I love that my husband is willing to try so many things.  He has never had hush puppies before so I was pretty excited for him and the kids to try these.  I dont do much deep frying around here.  Honestly, maybe one to three times per year.  These looked so good- had to make them. 

I seen these on Serious Eats and adapted them to what I had and how much I wanted to make.  To see the original recipe, click here.

My husband asked where hush puppies came from.  I told him it is a Southern thing but really didn't know more about it.  I Googled it.  One site says the Confederate soldiers would feed it to the dogs to quite them.  Another source, Wikipedia said they have Native American roots.  I am guessing both.

Hush Puppies

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
a good shake of granulated garlic powder (eh, a teaspoon)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 dried minced onion
1 1/2 cup buttermilk ( mine is very thick)*
2 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 cup chopped scallions 
Oil for frying

Mix the dry ingredients: flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, cayenne and dried onion.  Whisk it all together.  Better to combine it all now, rather than when the wet is mixed in.

Mix the wet ingredients: the buttermilk, melted butter, hot sauce.

Combine the wet and dry and add in the chopped scallion.  Stir until just combined. If it feels to dry add more buttermilk.
This is what it should look like when it is ready to go.
With damp hands grab a chunk and start making balls.  Gently place in 350F heated oil.  Fry until golden and turn over to other side.  It will puff so don't crowd it in the pan.  Leave some room for the heat to get up and around.

*Please note:  My buttermilk is very thick, I always have to use more than a recipe calls for. If your buttermilk is thin I would start with a cup and 1/4 of buttermilk before adding more.