February 12, 2013
I’ve been vegetarian for years. 15 to be exact. I’ve toyed with the idea of going vegan but frankly it seemed like too much work. And it may be, but I’m going to give it a try. Things are complicated a bit by the fact that I am also gluten free. But what the heck, I love a challenge, especially when it involves being creative with food.
So what prompted this final push? Well, a few things. I’ve noticed a connection to eating dairy and my sinus problems. I don’t easily get sinus infections but I tend to have a constant slight stuffiness. I recently did a fruit cleanse for 3 days and noticed that the stuffiness went away. Once back to my usual vegetarian diet, the stuffiness returned. Nudge #1.
I recently spotted the book “Forks Over Knives” at Barnes & Nobel and on a whim I decided to pick it up. I’m a sucker for a good cookbook and the recipes looked pretty good and didn’t have a long list of complicated, difficult to get ingredients. I read the book the next day and decided to try a couple recipes. They were delicious! Nudge #2.
A couple days later while trying to decide what to watch on Netflix, I suggested we watch the movie “Forks Over Knives”. It’s a very convincing movie. I have believed its message for years and have been trying to get my husband on board to healthy eating to no avail. This movie actually convinced him! He decided to give it a try and now I have a partner in eating vegan at home. The final nudge.
Our first Official Vegan Meal consisted of: Falafel (baked and adapted from Homestyle Vegetarian published by Bay Books), a delicious Mediterranean Rice Salad (from gluten-free recipes for the conscious cook by Leslie Cerier) and a Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (from Allrecipes.com) with various raw veggies. YUM!
October 12, 2010
It’s a beautiful fall day in Minnesota today. It’s been freakishly warm this month. Not that I’m complaining. I love hot weather. People often ask why I still live in Minnesota since most of the year I’m wearing 3 layers – and I’m still chilly if there is a breeze. I tell them it’s because the spiders don’t get as big up here.
But as much as I really don’t like sub-zero temps and bundling up to the point that only my eyeballs are showing, I love the change of seasons. The leaves have been amazing this year. The tree in our front yard right now is a palette of green, yellow, orange and red.
I love how warm breezes blow the leaves through the street like an applause for the coming of the new season. And who doesn’t love the sound of crunching leaves under their feet? I purposely walk in the gutter where most of the leaves gather, for maximum crunch and that feeling of being carefree and childlike.
So, in going with the childlike fall theme, I decided to make some mini pumpkin pies. Bite size goodies that I wanted to make with a gluten free gingerbread crust. I had to make a trip to the store to get a few things before I started. Once back I was ready to go. Although I knew what I was going to do, I couldn’t resist looking at some cookbooks and came across a recipe for a Pecan Butter Crust.
Now I had a dilemma. Which crust do I make? I used the pumpkin pie filling recipe from the Libby’s canned pumpkin (the kind my mom always uses). It was more than enough filling for both recipes so I decided to make both. Which meant another trip to the store for the one ingredient I was short.
I made 48 mini-pumpkin pies and thinking I had more than enough bite size pies, I decided to just make a small tart with what was left. I was a little disappointed in that decision after I flipped one pan of mini-pies onto the oven door as I was taking it out. My tart was still baking so I didn’t want to keep the oven door open too long. Murmuring curse words to myself for making the mess and destroying my cute little pies I quickly scraped the pile of goo into a bowl and shut the oven door. That will be fun to clean later.
I looked at the mess piled into the bowl. It wasn’t pretty but it was pumpkin pie- even if it didn’t look like pie. I decided to have a taste. The goo tasted delicious! I couldn’t just throw it away! There must be something I can do with pumpkin pie mush…
It didn’t take long before I decided to do what I do with a lot of my gluten-free flops. It would make a great topping for ice cream. Another trip to the store.
Pecan Butter Crust
from Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly
1/4 cup pecans, toasted (place raw pecans in 350° oven for 10 min.)
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (separated)
1 cup Basic Gluten-Free Mix*
1 Tablespoon sweet rice flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Preheat oven to 375°.
Finely grind the toasted pecans and the 1 Tablespoon sugar in a food processor.
Mix together the ground nuts, gluten-free mix, 1/4 cup sugar, sweet rice flour and salt. Blend well. Using a pastry blender or fork work the butter into the dry ingredients until you have coarse crumbs.
Place 1 Tablespoon of the crumbs into each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Place a small amount of sugar in a dish. Dip mini-tart press in sugar then press down crust in each cup. (A small shot glass may work as well). Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven. Increase heat to 425°. Fill each cup with pumpkin pie filling. A liquid measuring cup works great for this. Once the oven is at 425°, bake another 12 – 13 minutes. It is done when a small knife poked in one comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan 5 minutes before carefully removing each pie to fully cool on rack. Top with fresh whipped cream. I like mine lightly sweetened with sugar and a little vanilla.
*Gluten-free mix- 2 cups brown rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour
The directions are basically the same for the Ginger Snap Crust with only a few minor changes.
Ginger Snap Crust
1 bag MI-DEL Gluten-Free Ginger Snaps (8 oz bag)
6 Tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place ginger snaps into food processor and process until fine crumbs. Place in bowl and add melted butter. Stir until well combined.
Place 1 Tablespoon of the crumbs into each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Using mini-tart press, press down crust in each cup. Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven. Increase heat to 425°. Fill each cup with pumpkin pie filling. Once the oven is at 425°, bake another 12 – 13 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan 5 minutes before carefully removing each pie to fully cool on rack. Top with fresh whipped cream.
January 27, 2010
I don’t typically make New Year’s Resolutions. I like to think of them as positive intentions instead. Then I guess I don’t feel so guilty when I inevitably slip up. So this year, one of my positive intentions is to do a better job with updating this site.
I’m starting off with a recipe I’ve had since a child. I got it from a friend of my mothers, but where it originally came from, I have no idea. I came across it recently while going through my old recipe box. It is written on a 3×5 card in the hand of myself as a 10 or 12-year-old and I remembered it as being easy and delicious. It is made using a boxed cake mix but a scratch cake mix would work as well. I’ve always used Chocolate cake- since it’s my favorite. I love the chocolate-cream cheese combination. Perhaps other flavors would work as well. Let me know if you try something different.
I made the following recipe with Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Devils Food Cake mix so the cupcakes could be gluten-free. I did end up with extra filling though since this cake mix only makes 18 cupcakes. The recipe says cupcakes but last time I doubled the recipe and got tired of making cupcakes so I put the rest of the batter in a small spring form pan lined with parchment and swirled in the cream cheese mixture. It was great! A Chocolate Cream Cheese like Cake. Yum!
In the spirit of the upcoming Valentine’s Day I decided to add red food coloring to the filling although I usually leave it uncolored. So here it is. Hope you enjoy!
1 Chocolate cake mix- mixed according to directions
Fill cupcake papers 1/2 to 2/3 full.
2/3 cup sugar
8 oz. cream cheese (I like Philadelphia)
1 cup chocolate chips (I use the mini)
Put 1 teaspoon filling into each cupcake. Bake according to cupcake mix directions.
July 26, 2009
Let me start off by saying I’m not a tea expert.
After wondering how to make tea with my fresh mint that was growing like crazy, I decided to just try something. I started simply, just because I didn’t know what else to do. It actually ended up being just the way I like it. My recipe….
Several (3 – 5) sprigs fresh mint (spearmint, peppermint, any mint will do)
Several cups (about 5) filtered water
Crush the mint leaves in your hand so the leaves are slightly bruised to release some extra mint flavor. Put them into a pot and cover with water. Heat the water until it almost boils. Then remove and let sit several minutes – some prefer only 5 minutes- I’ve left it 45 minutes before and it still tasted delicious. I usually let it come close to room temperature before I remove the mint leaves and pour the tea over ice (you might want to use a small strainer). It could also be drunk hot if preferred. Some add sugar to their tea but I prefer it unsweetened.
That’s it. Very simple and very refreshing.
April 19, 2009
I first had this soup several years ago at a wonderful Greek restaurant in Minneapolis called Christos. They currently have three locations. Check them out at: http://www.christos.com/christos.html
An internet search found that the recipe had already been published online so I printed it and made it right away. I was a little disappointed to see that the recipe calls for chicken broth since I was certain it was vegetarian and will have to ask the next time I go there. But substituting veggie broth works and it’s delicious!
Here is the link to where I found the recipe:
The recipe here has the veggie broth substitution. Try it with warmed pita topped with olive oil and sea salt.
Tomato-Basil with Feta Soup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup onions, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded and diced small
3 cups veggie broth
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
2 cups tomato sauce
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a deep saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onions until transparent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bay leaf, garlic and salt, and continue cooking another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and veggie broth. Bring mix to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often. Remove the saucepan from the stove. Remove the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or regular blender and return to saucepan. Stir in the feta cheese, basil and tomato sauce, and season with black pepper.
December 11, 2008
It’s funny how for so many years we’ve been learning ways to better multi-task so we can get more done in less time. Now it seems the thinking is that it is better to be “present”, to be focused on doing a good job on one thing at a time and then moving on to the next.
I have to say that for me cooking really allows me to be present. Whether I am following a recipe or making something up, I need to be present while cooking or everything will get messed up.
Chopping vegetables or sauteing onions or measuring ingredients are very much like a meditation that keeps me present with the rhythm of it all. At other times of the day I have to remind myself to be present. But when I am cooking, I just am.
With busy schedules it’s not always easy to squeeze in cooking or meditation. Believe it or not you can do both. Especially with dishes that require chopping or stirring. Stir fry and risotto come to mind. Both of which taste way better from scratch. Homemade french fries are also a favorite of mine for this. Piles and piles of potatoes!
October 28, 2008
This last week I decided to do a little taste test – my usual pumpkin bread vs. the gluten free pumpkin bread I discovered last fall.
My usual recipe was one I have used for years that uses tofu instead of added fats. No one ever suspected it had tofu in it and it was always a big hit. Looking for a gluten-free option last year, I came across this recipe. With my son and a friend of his as the main testers, the gluten free option was the winner.
The recipe is from Gluten-Free Baking by Rebecca Reilly. This has been one of the best gluten-free cookbooks I have found. I frequently use her recipe for Gluten-Free Mix in my regular recipes. By just adding 1 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of flour mix, I have been able to transform many family favorites.
For anyone wanting a gluten-free option or someone wanting to use flours other than wheat this is the best! It is wonderful as a fall snack, dessert or for brunch. It is also great to give as a gift around the holidays, especially for someone who can’t eat wheat. Enjoy!
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread
Makes 1- 9×5″ loaf, 3-5×3″ loaves, or 12 muffins
1 3/4 cup Basic Gluten-Free Mix *
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped nuts, cranberries, dates or raisins (optional)
*Gluten free mix: 2 cups brown rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca starch
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan and dust with rice flour, or line with parchment paper, or muffin papers.
Mix together the gluten-free mix, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.
Cream the butter until white. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time. If the mixture appears cracked, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredients until it looks smooth. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, alternating with the milk. Add the chopped nuts or fruit, if using. Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan(s) or muffin cups. (I tend to have some extra batter and just make some mini muffins) Bake the loaf for 1 hour, the small loaves for 25 minutes or the muffins for 15 -18 minutes.