Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Cookies

Well, so far, I've been too busy working on making gifts to have a chance to start my holiday baking, so you'll have to wait for pictures.  However, I'm hoping you are all more organized that I and would like to have some recipes.

Spritz cookies are the trademark Christmas cookies around here.  When I was a child, my dad would take my brother and I out hiking around our property to find a Christmas tree.  When we got back to the house, mom would have fresh baked cookies coming out of the oven.  To this day, the smell of almond extract brings those memories rushing back.

Spritz Cookies
adapted from The Cookie Book by Wisconsin Electric

1 c. Spectrum shortening
1/2 c. + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 1/2 c. Featherlight flour
colored sugar and candies for decorating
food colors (optional)

Cream shortening; add sugar.  Blend in egg, salt, extracts, xanthan and flour.  Mix dough until soft and pliable. Divide dough and add a couple drops of food coloring to each, if desired & mix well.  Press dough through cookie press onto ungreased cookie sheets; decorate as desired.  Bake at 400 degrees about 8 minutes.  Makes about 6 dozen, depending on size.
*These freeze wonderfully, so are usually the first ones I make, early in the season.

Simple Fudge Tarts
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 100 Best Cookies

1 batch of peanut butter cookie dough
1 c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips
3/8 c. coconut milk
2 Tbsp powdered sugar (for semi-sweet; add more if you like sweeter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray twenty-four 1 3/4" muffin cups with oil.  Cut/scoop equal portions of dough for each cup and place into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and dough is slightly firm, but not set.  Remove from oven.  Gently press a shallow indentation in each tart shell with the back of a round 1/2-teaspoon measuring spoon.
Bake 2 minutes more or until edges of tart shells are firm and light golden brown.  Let tart shells cool in cups on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Carefully remove tart shells from cups.  Cool completely on wire racks.
For filling, in a saucepan combine chocolate pieces, coconut milk and powdered sugar.  Cook and stir over medium heat until chocolate melts.  Spoon a generous teaspoon of filling into each cooled tart shell.  Cool until filling is set.
Makes 24.
To store:  Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover.  Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Almond Sweets
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 100 Best Cookies

3 c. Featherlight flour
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
almond icing (recipe follows)
colored sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet; set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, xanthan, baking powder, and salt.  In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla with an electric mixer until combined.  Beat in as much of the four mixture as you can.  Stir in any remaining flour mixture with a wooden spoon.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls; place balls 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until bottoms are light brown.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.  When cookies are cool, spread with Almond Icing.  Sprinkle with colored sugar, if desired.  Makes about 40.
Almond Icing: In a medium mixing bowl, stir together 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp almond extract, and 1 to 2 Tbsp milk substitute (or water) to make an icing of spreading consistency.
To store: Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover.  Store iced cookies at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Freeze undecorated cookies for up to 3 months.  Thaw cookies, then decorate.

Cranberry-Orange Pinwheels
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 100 Best Cookies

Fresh cranberries give these pleasingly soft cookies a tangy taste and bright color.

1 c. cranberries
1 c. pecans
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. Spectrum shortening
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. xanthan gum
2 eggs
2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
3 c. Featherlight flour

For filling, in a blender or food processor combine cranberries, pecans and brown sugar.  Cover and blend or process until cranberries and nuts are finely chopped; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum.  Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Beat in eggs and orange peel until combined.  Beat in the flour.  Divide dough in half.  Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
Roll half of the dough between pieces of plastic wrap into a 10-inch square.  Spread half of the filling over the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edges; roll up dough.  Moisten edges; pinch to seal.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for 4 to 24 hours.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices; place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are light brown.  Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute.  Transfer to a wire rack; cool.
Makes about 60.

Gingerbread People
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 100 Best Cookies

3 c. Four Flour Bean Mix
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 c. Spectrum shortening, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. molasses
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir together flour, baking soda, spices and xanthan gum; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer for 30 seconds.  Add sugar; beat until combined.  Add egg, molasses and vanilla; beat until combined.  Beat in flour until well mixed.  Cover; chill dough 3 hours or overnight, or until easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface (you can use flour mix, sweet rice flour or cornstarch), roll dough to about 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut dough using 5-inch gingerbread people cookie cutters.  Arrange cutouts about 1 inch apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 5- minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are light brown.  Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.  Frost as desired.
Makes about 25
To store: Place in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container; cover.  Store frosted cookies  at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze unfrosted cookies for up to 3 months.  Thaw cookies, then decorate.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Soup Season...

I've been making a lot of soups lately, with the cold, snowy weather.  Ah, comfort food.

White Chicken Chili

I love this recipe from Our Best Bites for white chicken chili.  Obviously, to make it gf/sf/df, watch the brand of chicken broth you use and skip the sour cream and cheese.  Last winter I had home-canned chicken and chicken broth on hand and pre-cooked beans in the freezer, so this was one of my quickest go-to meals.

Corn Chowder

Not really a recipe to share because this is one of those "toss together until it looks good" meals.  This has always been one of my favorite soups and I thought I was going to have to give it up when we went dairy-free.  However,  I think this satisfies the craving (and probably saves some calories over the original version). 

Forgive the lack of more precise measurements...
bacon, diced and cooked (could be skipped if you want vegetarian/vegan)
lots of potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled
onion, diced and sauteed, or onion powder
milk substitute, optional (gives it a richer color, but can be made without & just use water with bouillon or broth; I sometimes use fresh-made cashew milk)
creamed corn
salt & pepper, to taste
chives to top, optional

Once the potatoes are boiled, add the liquid of your choice and puree about half of the mix.  You can do this in a blender or food processor, but I prefer to use my immersion blender to keep the mess to a minimum.  Add the onion, bacon (if using), and creamed corn.  Adjust seasonings to suit.  If you want a thicker soup, you can mix some cornstarch with cold water and add to the soup, stirring carefully.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and had safe travels.  Our travels took much longer than anticipated due to some nasty winter weather, but the visit was nice.  I'm very glad to be home safe and sound and enjoying the safe-food bubble that is my home.

I'll try to add some pictures that I took of Thanksgiving items whose recipes I posted earlier.

Now, time to gear up for Christmas.  What Christmas traditions do you hold dear?  I love the season of giving.  Finding that perfect gift for each person on my list is one of my favorite things.  I'm excited by the challenge this year of being more frugal and crafty in this department.  I've been like a little elf, working away at my projects.  I'd love to share, but it will have to wait until after the holiday as it's currently 'Top Secret'. 
Another big tradition for me is doing a lot of holiday baking.  I've done this for many years (giving most away to friends and family), and was quite distraught by the thought that I would not be able to continue after our diet changed.  Thankfully, with a little trial and error, I've been able to convert most of my favorites.  I'll start posting them soon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cranberry Nut Bread

My absolute favorite quick bread.  My mom made this every year for Thanksgiving and I have carried on the tradition.  Now my in-laws beg me to make it (my first year gf I tried using a gf cranberry bread recipe that was met with much dismay, so I had to come back to this one and convert it).

Cranberry Nut Bread
adapted from Ocean Spray's Cranberry Nut Bread

4 c. Four Flour Bean Mix or Featherlight Mix
3 tsp. xanthan gum
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbsp. orange zest
2 eggs
3 c. cranberries, fresh or frozen, roughly chopped
1 c. chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts work well)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.

Mix together flour, xanthan, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, orange peel, oil and eggs. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pans.

Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely. Wrap and store overnight. Makes 2 loaves.

Pecan Pie

Probably my favorite pie of all.  I was so tickled when I found this recipe a couple of years ago.  While I haven't entirely cut out corn syrup from our diet, I do try to avoid it so this was a great recipe.  And, not so cloyingly sweet as the traditional recipe.

Pecan Pie
adapted from 'How to Cook Everything' by Mark Bittman

1 pie crust
2 cups shelled pecans (preferably toasted first)
5 eggs
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 c. canola oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Prebake crust (bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes) and place pecans on a baking sheet and bake (you can do this before the oven reaches 450 degrees), shaking and stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the pecans are hot.  Cool the pecans; coarsely chop half of them and leave the other half intact.
Start the filling while the crust is in the oven.  When the crust is done, turn the oven to 375 degrees.
Beat the eggs well, until they are foamy.  Beat in the sugars, salt, and oil.  While the crust is baking, warm this mixture in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it is hot to the touch; do not boil.  Stir in the vanilla extract and the pecans.
Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.  Pour this mixture into the still-hot crust and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until the mixture shakes like Jell-O but is still quite moist.  Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bring on the Thanksgiving feast

Alright, so I figured I should start adding some Thanksgiving-friendly recipes so you all have time to gather ingredients and make stuff before the big day.  What does your Thanksgiving feast look like?  Are you missing items from pre-gf?  I've managed to recreate all of our mainstays.  We do a pretty typical dinner, I think - turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, stuffing, rolls, veggies, cranberry sauce, cranberry bread, gravy, pies...lots of pies.

On that note, I thought I'd start off with a recipe for graham crackers in case anyone wants a graham cracker pie crust.  Remember, I've already posted the Vinegar Pastry for those regular pies.

Graham Crackers
by Raechel Medina

3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. Spectrum shortening
1/2 c. water + 1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. Featherlight flour mix
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

In a medium bowl, beat honey, molasses, brown sugar, peanut butter and shortening until very smooth.
Combine water, lemon juice and vanilla and set aside.
combine dry ingredients.  Alternating, add liquids and dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture, stirring well.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a cookie sheet (or, use Silpat baking mats).
Divide dough into three or four balls.  Roll out each to about a 1/16" thickness (I like to do this between two sheets of plastic wrap to prevent sticking).  Cut into squares or use cookie cutters for desired shapes and prick with a fork. Transfer carefully to cookie sheet.
Bake for 6-8 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn.  Cool on wire racks.  Store in airtight container or freeze.  Makes about 4 dozen, depending on size/shape.

Crazy weather

My apologies for not posting this week.  We had some crazy, wicked weather roll through Monday night - 85mph gusts of wind (class I hurricane range!), thunder, lightning, pouring rain. I woke in the middle of the night to watch and listen to it - it was something to behold!   It knocked out our power at 1:20am Tuesday.  We found out later that the highway that runs by our house was closed just north of us - they had 9 power poles topple.

So, Tuesday morning, after stumbling around in the dark I finally found the one remaining, semi-working flashlight (kids are really rough on them). My husband headed in to see if he had power at his office in town.  On his way out he found that a good-sized tree had snapped on the side of our driveway, thankfully not blocking it.  I hauled in the box of candles and a kerosene lantern so we'd have light and then went on a quest for a radio that could be battery powered to see if the boys had school.  No such luck - the two radios we have that can run on batteries require, respectively, 10 D batteries and 8 C batteries.  Had one walkman with AM/FM which would have been great, but I discovered the downfall to our switch to rechargeable batteries - we had no charged AA batteries.  How could that be?  So, feeling quite foolish, I started the car to charge my cell phone (which also died in the night) and catch the news on the radio.  Got my phone charged and touched base with my husband - spotty power in town and he didn't get power at his office until about 7:30 or 8:00am (he starts work at 6am).

Thankfully, school was canceled, so the boys and I had a long, quiet (albeit chilly) day.  We read and read and read until my voice was hoarse and throat was raw - we've been reading the Little House on the Prairie series and just started the Rose Years.  We played games.  Didn't get do much in the way of meals - thankfully I had a couple loaves of bread so we had sandwiches for lunch and dinner.  Kept hoping the power would come on before the next meal.  The boys were intrigued and a bit befuddled by the lack of power.  My youngest asked a couple times to play on the computer.  They enjoyed eating by candle/lamp light, although they kept complaining about how dim it was.  I rather enjoyed it - I grew up without electricity, so for much of my childhood we used lanterns, wood heat and hauled water.  It was nice slowing down and having a quiet day.

The only downfalls were that we don't have a non-electric source of water (I'd love to get a manual pump for our well or a rain barrel system).  And, our non-electric heat source is very limited - we have a fireplace insert that we use for most of our heat, but it uses a blower.  Without the blower working, it doesn't produce much heat since the firebox is so well insulated.  Thankfully, it wasn't any colder (it was in the 30's).

Wednesday was much the same - lots more reading, games and time hiking around our property to see if there was any damage.  One son had school, the other did not (two big trees fell at his school, blocking the road, but thankfully didn't hit the school).  We lucked out that only two trees had fallen on our property, neither of which caused any damage.  The cold weather was a bonus in one respect - the fridge and freezer were able to maintain temps okay.  I did add a couple frozen jugs of water to the fridge Tuesday morning and finally moved stuff to a cooler with ice in the garage Wednesday mid-day.  But, the big chest freezer stayed frozen.  My husband kept relaying information from the power company's website throughout the day to keep us posted of their progress.  The estimate was that we'd have power by 4pm.  Around 3pm we ran out of water from the holding tank.  Hmmph.  Of course, 4:00 came and went with no power.  Cooked dinner outside, in the dark, on the grill.  Shortly after finishing dinner, the power finally came on at 7pm.  Boy were those lights brilliant!

So, that concludes our saga.  If you followed along, I'll mention that I'll try to actually get some food posts on here over the weekend to gear up for Thanksgiving.  I love Thanksgiving.  I was a little intimidated the first year we were gluten, dairy and soy free (and to add to it, we join our extended family for the holiday, so it's more than just our family that has to enjoy the meal.)  So far, I've had only rave reviews, though, so I think I'm onto something.  If anyone has any holiday challenges they'd like help with, please let me know!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Well, I thought I'd posted this at the beginning of the school year, but, in going back it looks like I only posted the ideas for the treat bags.  Since this topic came up the other day when talking with some other moms and, because frankly, I've been stuck in a rut with no snack ideas, here is a list of snack ideas for the kids' school days (or any time).

Snack Ideas
    *We are limited for snacks by keeping things simple and non-refrigerated/non-heated, so I only list those here.

  • apples (if cut, sprinkled with cinnamon or rubbed with lemon juice; occasionally with pb or a dip)
  • other fruits
  • fruit leather ( Stretch Island or homemade)
  • dried fruit
  • Tings
  • Ener-G Wylde pretzels
  • veggies (sometimes with peanut butter or hummus, which, by the way freezes in an ice cube tray perfectly)
  • breadsticks
  • bars: Lara, Boomi, Oskiri, Enjoy Life, Envirokids (most flavors), Trio, Nature Valley Roasted Nut Crunch
  • granola bites/bars (homemade)
  • popcorn (toppings here include: flaxseed oil, salt, nutritional yeast, chili powder/chipotle powder or hot sauce, lemon juice; occasionally cinnamon & sugar)
  • Clif Twisted Fruit
  • rice crackers
  • graham crackers (homemade)
  • Fritos Scoops
  • potato chips
  • Mission tortilla chips
  • jerky (homemade as I haven't found one without soy)
  • cookies
  • muffins or quick breads
  • pancake with peanut butter
  • Super Fridge Fudge
  • cereal
  • trail mix (mix of whatever is handy: peanuts, nuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, cereal, dried fruit, chocolate chips)
Other ideas
     when refrigeration or portability is not an issue-
  • canned fruit
  • applesauce (cinnamon added on top)
  • sorbet
  • Jello or homemade gelatin
  • boiled egg
  • pudding (homemade)
What are your favorites that I've missed?  I'm always looking for new ideas!


I had to catch up on some baking so I'd have snack items for the boys, so I whipped out a couple of batches of muffins last night and thought I'd share.

Apple Muffins
By Raechel Medina

1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. millet flour
1/4 c. flaxmeal
1/2 c. potato starch
3/4 c. cornstarch
3/4 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. applesauce
1/2 c. water (or milk substitute)
2 eggs
1-2 c. peeled, cored & chopped apple (I use however much I have on hand - last night was 2 medium apples)
turbinado sugar (optional, for topping)

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Add wet ingredients and mix to combine, then add apples.  Once well mixed, divide into greased muffin tins or cake pan (I get 18 muffins or 12 muffins and a small round cake pan.).  Sprinkle with a bit of turbinado sugar, if desired.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
To store at room temperature, don't seal up tight or they will get gooey, although you can always toss them back in the oven for a couple minutes to remedy this.  To freeze, omit the sugar topping.

Mexican Chocolate Muffins
my tweaked version of Stephanie's Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins

1 c. brown rice flour
1/3 c. potato starch
2 Tbsp + 2tsp. tapioca starch
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cayenne (a bit more if you want a kick, but this amount gives just a hint of  a tingle)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp water (or milk substitute)
2 eggs
1 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 - 3/4 c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips, if using.  Divide batter into greased muffin tin.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pie crust

A friend requested a recipe for pie crust, so I thought I'd post it.  I figured that surely I would have a picture of a pie I've made to go along with the recipe, but lo and behold - nada.  Anyway, here's the recipe I use most often and I'll post an actual pie soon.

Vinegar Pastry (Revised)
by Bette Hagman's "The Gluten-free Gourmet"

1 c. white rice flour (*I use brown rice flour)
3/4 c. tapioca flour
3/4 c. corn starch
1 rounded tsp xanthan gum
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 c. shortening
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp vinegar
2 to 3 Tbsp ice water

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cornstarch, xanthan gum, salt and sugar.  Cut in the shortening.  Blend together the beaten egg, vinegar and cold water.  Stir into the flour mixture, holding back some, until the pastry holds together and forms a ball.  (Kneading will not toughen this pastry.)

Form two balls and place in a bowl; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Remove and roll one ball at a time between 2 sheets of plastic wrap that have been dusted with sweet rice flour.  To place in pie tin:  Remove top sheet and, using the other for ease of handling, invert the dough and drop it into the pan.  Shape it into the curves before removing the second piece of plastic wrap.  For a crust to be used later, bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  For a filled pie, follow directions for that pie.

Makes two 9" crusts or a double-crusted pie.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saving money

I've come to the point that I've decided I am tired of being in debt, of living from paycheck to paycheck.  So, my newest endeavor is to take a good hard look at our spending in all areas and get on track.  I'm working with a variety of sources, mainly trying to follow Dave Ramsey's program but also reading other books on finance, money saving and frugal meals.

Yesterday I wrote out my first ever budget.  I've always been daunted by this process, giving up before I'd really gotten anywhere because I would look at the current spending and try to fit all of that into the income, but it never would quite work out.  It finally dawned on me yesterday that I was going about it all wrong.  This time, I started with the income and only added expenses up to that income amount & anything else will have to be deferred.  Yes, I know, it shouldn't have taken me this long in life to come up with this.  I can't change what's done, but I'm going to do better from now on.  I'm excited and can't wait to make some real progress.

Today's plan is to work on a grocery shopping price book.  I've read about these a lot, but never worked on an all-inclusive one because I thought I new food prices pretty well.  I guess we'll see if I'm right.  As we all know, working with a "limited" diet can wind up being very expensive as you try to find substitutes for foods you're used to or as your baking supplies grow and grow with the new found ingredients.  My goal is to drastically cut our grocery budget, which has gotten way out of hand. To that end, I hope the price book will help.  I had, previously, started a price list (for the food allergy & intolerance group I used to facilitate) of some of the specialty items I buy.  As I get this list updated, I'll add it to this site.  Hopefully it will be helpful to the locals, at least.

The other part of cutting our grocery budget, which I've been doing on and off for years, is to meal plan.  I'm getting in the habit again and it really helps, not only with the shopping, but also to stave off those panicked "Oh what are we going to have for dinner" 7pm.  So, I'll also post those and hopefully they'll be helpful as well.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mock Oreo Cookies

I haven't made these in awhile, but someone was asking me for the recipe the other day, so I thought I'd share.
Mock Oreo Cookies
from 'The Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Dessert' by Bette Hagman

2 1/4 c. Featherlight Mix 1 egg
1 scant tsp xanthan gum 1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp Egg Replacer 1-2 Tbsp milk or nondairy substitute (*3 Tbsp hemp milk)
2/3 c cocoa
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda 2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp salt 3 Tbsp shortening
3/4 c. margarine (*shortening) 1/4 tsp vanilla
1 c. sugar 2 Tbsp hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, Egg Replacer, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream the margarine and sugar until light. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions. If the dough becomes too stiff, add the milk as needed. Shape the dough into two 10: x 1 1/2" rolls. Wrap in foil and chill. Cut into 1/8" slices and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes. (*I had better luck rolling the dough out and using a small cookie cutter.) Let cool for only a few minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. Cool thoroughly on a rack.

For the filling, combine the confectioners' sugar, shortening, vanilla, and hot water (use enough to create a good spreading texture). (*I made it quite thick, so it could be rolled into little balls and flattened onto the cookie.)

Makes about 45 filled cookies.

*notes added by Raechel Medina

Friday, September 10, 2010

What's for dinner? Tacos al pastor

My husband was the cook the other night and surprised us with this wonderful dish, which I had never had before.  The picture does not do it justice!  It was deliciously spicy and the pineapple added a nice dimension to it. He used the Epicurious recipe (above), other than the chipotle chiles with adobo sauce - since adobo sauce has gluten (at least the ones I can get here), he opted to use re-hydrated morita chiles, an amazingly fragrant, smoky chile.

Along with the pork and pineapple, we had Mexican rice, fresh-made corn tortillas, re-fried beans, guacamole and an assortment of salsas (which I really should have taken pictures of).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More school lunches

A few more lunch ideas...

Crisp taco with Daiya cheese, lettuce and fresh salsa; beans, Mexican rice and taco meat in the thermos.  Fresh pineapple wedges, red grapes, cherry tomatoes

Egg salad sandwich on Honey-Flax bread, chocolate chip granola bites (from, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and a strawberry-pineapple smoothie.  I made the smoothies the night before and froze them; tucked them into the lunch bags in the morning - boys said they were still cold and a decent consistency at lunch time.

Quesadillas made with homemade corn tortillas and Daiya cheese, fresh guacamole, chocolate chip granola bites, walnuts & raisins, and a checkered apple (another wonderful idea from -thank you! - the boys got a kick out of it).

Nothing too fancy this morning, as we didn't plan ahead.  Peanut butter sandwiches with raspberry jam, mixed grapes, Pulparindo (tamarind fruit leather dusted with chili), and homemade chocolate pudding (yum!).

Chocolate Pudding
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. canola oil (I'm guessing this may be optional, but I haven't tried it without yet)
2 c. milk substitute (currently I'm using homemade cashew milk)
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients together with 1/4 c. "milk".  Heat the remaining "milk", then slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly. Add oil. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, in a heavy-bottomed pan over moderately low heat.  Continue to cook for about 15 minutes so that the raw cornstarch taste disappears.  Let cool, then whisk in the vanilla.  Store in refrigerator.

Vanilla Pudding variation:
Reduce sugar to 4 Tbsp and leave out cocoa and oil from above recipe.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

School Lunches, 1 & 2

I actually got this week's school lunches pre-planned, with help from the boys, so the lunch-packing has gone off without a hitch.  First day of school was mini meatballs, rice, waldorf salad and mini chocolate chip cookies.  Here's the at-home version (with tomatoes added) - the ones that went to school had the rice and meatballs packed into thermoses.

Today, Day 2's lunch was pizza pockets, green salad with vinaigrette dressing and ice tea.  The pizza pockets are filled with basil & sun dried tomato chicken sausage, mushrooms, pizza sauce and Daiya mozzarella cheese.  Vinaigrette dressing is olive oil, pomegranate-infused red wine vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and Italian seasonings.

Pizza Pockets

Using a double batch of Bette Hagman's Featherlight Biscuit dough, add a little extra flour mix to make a workable dough.  Split into five pieces and roll/press each out between two sheets of plastic wrap. Take top plastic off and spread pizza sauce over half of the circle of dough, staying back from the edges by about 1/2".  Add the rest of your toppings to the same side of the dough, being careful not to add too much.  Fold the plain half over the fillings and press edges together.  Remove from plastic wrap and place on baking sheet (I use a Silpat mat on mine so I don't get a baked on mess if they ooze).  Bake in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Remove and serve, or, to pack for lunches, let cool before packing so they aren't soggy.  These freeze very well after they're baked, too - I re-heated ours in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes (already thawed).

Featherlight Biscuits
from Bette Hagman's 'The Gluten-free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods'
7/8 c. Featherlight Mix
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp shortening
1/2 c. buttermilk (*I use water with a tad bit of vinegar added)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.  Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the buttermilk and work gently until the dough forms a ball.

Turn out onto a surface dusted with sweet rice flour and pat or lightly roll to 3/4" thickness.  Cut the dough into 2 1/2" squares or form round biscuits using a 2 1/2" round cutter.  Place 1" apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Makes 8 biscuits.

And we're back

to school!  First day went well - Yay!  I'd forgotten how quiet the house is with only one child here!

I got the idea a few days ago to make cloth placemats and napkins for the boys' lunches. (Place mats so they have a safe/clean spot to eat at, and napkins since I'm striving toward the goal of a zero-waste lunch.) So, we perused the fabric store - they each chose one print for their place mats and they both liked the same print for the napkins.

The red swirls and the planetary motif are the place mats - 3 of each design (they measure about 13" x 10").  The skulls are the napkins - there are 4 of them (which are about 9" x 8").  All I did was cut them to size and zig-zagged around all sides.  Today I made 5 more napkins (10"x10") - two in plain blue, two in plain red and one half green/half little frogs.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Busy stocking the freezer

Well, now that I've found some space in my freezer, I've been baking up a storm whenever I have a chance so I have some goodies stashed away for school lunches and snacks.  So far I have apple muffins, zucchini muffins, cranberry muffins, banana muffins, mini chocolate chip cookies, snack balls, personal pizza crusts, pizza pockets and two loaves of sandwich bread.  Yay!  I'll try to post some recipes soon, but if there are any in particular you're interested in, let me know and I'll get it posted ASAP.

School starts TOMORROW!

We have school lunches planned for the first three days:

  • Mini meatballs, seasoned rice, waldorf salad
  • Pizza pocket, green salad, iced tea
  • Egg salad sandwich, cucumber, smoothie

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Snack/Treat Bags for School

Somehow, this almost slipped my mind.  For the boys, at school, I make them each a bag of goodies that can stay there through the school year so they have both some treats (for birthdays or other celebrations I wasn't forewarned about) and some snacks (also for things that we miss, but also so they would have some safe snack options should they, say, forget their lunch and I'm not available to bring it in).  This has worked quite well in the past.  The teachers keep the bag somewhere for the kids, so it's not like they're munching from it all the time, but it's easy access when the need arises.  I'm not sure quite how I'll wind up modifying this for my 7th grader this year (first year at the Jr. High, so we're beyond birthday parties in class, at least).

Some items I've included (in a sealed, labeled, gallon Ziploc bag with their name on it); all items are individually wrapped to maintain shelf-life:

  • Tings
  • dried fruit
  • fruit leather - Stretch Island, or homemade
  • Bars - Lara, Boomi, Oskiri, Enjoy Life, Envirokids (most), Trio, Nature Valley Roasted Nut Crunch
  • Candy - Skittles, Starburst, Mike & Ikes, Hot Tamales, Smarties, Dots, Jolly Ranchers, Nerds, Dum Dums, Necco conversation hearts (Valentine's)
  • If ice cream or popcicles may be served, having the school keep one or two Fla-Vor-Ice or Del Monte Fruit Chillers in a freezer is a good idea (these can be transported by your child, not needing to remain frozen.
  • juice box
  • Nana's Cookies (make sure they're GF)
  • Jennie's Macaroons
  • Clif Kid Twisted Fruit
  • Ener-G Wylde Pretzels

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

School starts in 8 days! So I thought I'd have a post dedicated to school lunches. The best advice I can give for packing lunches is to make a menu, or at least a list of ideas for those mornings where you just can't think of anything. Last year, I tried writing up a month-long school lunch menu, just like the other kids got for hot lunch. It was a huge hit with the boys, but I got lazy about it after the first couple of months.

I also try to freeze lunch size portions of leftovers for crazy days. I've been stockpiling baked goods in the freezer, so I've got some reserve. The other day I made tamale and baked half into muffin tins for lunches (they'll just be thawed and reheated then popped in a thermos).

Speaking of which – having a food thermos is a must, as is having many different size/shape lunch containers. You can look at bento sites for great ideas and modify to whatever you have on hand/locally available (for example: small plastic spice jars, with half the holes covered with tape work well for a salt shaker; a clean food coloring squeeze bottle makes an excellent sauce bottle).

I keep a notebook of ideas, though (almost everything is homemade, since we've got three food groups to avoid) -


Bread sticks with pizza sauce

boiled egg

tortilla chips & salsa or guacamole or bean dip

cereal & milk

fried rice w/ pork or chicken

ham, cheese & pickle rolls


crackers, ham & cheese

inside out sandwiches (bread, cheese & pickle wrapped with ham, wrapped with lettuce)



French toast sticks

Pancakes – mini w/ side of syrup

pasta (mac & cheese, spaghetti, tomato/bacon/basil, chopped ham & veggies, mini meatballs &

sauce, chicken & broccoli)

hot dogs/sausages

chili dogs

meatballs with rice

spring rolls

wraps/sandwiches/rice cakes/bagel - PB& J, PB & apple slices, PB & banana, PB & honey, PB & marshmallow crème, PB & chocolate chip, egg salad, tuna, ham, chicken salad, chicken and bacon, buffalo chicken wrap (chicken strips, hot sauce, lettuce, tomato, mayo), bacon/lettuce/avocado/tomato, ham & egg

sandwich kabob (skewer with meat, cheese, bread, pickle, etc)

sausage/spanish rice/corn & black beans

tamale pie

salads (green salad, tuna salad on lettuce, grilled chicken, greens w/ pecans, cranberries, apple or pear slices, layered salad, taco salad)

polenta with spaghetti sauce or chili

stir fry

rice pudding with raisins

pizza – mini or pizza pocket

smoked fish

sloppy joes


pasta salad

potato – roasted or baked

soft shell taco

tuna stuffed tomatoes

stuffed bell peppers

onigiri rice balls (can add nori, sesame seeds, pork, chicken, veggies)

roast chicken or beef


chicken nuggets (homemade or Ian’s brand)

shepherd's pie

pigs in a blanket

sushi (rice, carrots, avocado, cucumber, sometimes smoked salmon, wrapped in nori)


croquets (breaded, fried mashed potato balls; can add bits of ham)

crab or tuna cakes


quinoa salad


cucumber salad (sliced cukes and onions soaked in rice wine vinegar and sugar)

baked beans (with hot dogs)

potato chips


fruit salad

salad kebob (cherry tomatoes, cucumber cubes, mushrooms, croutons, etc)

fruit kebobs



muffins/quick breads

trail mix

veggies & fruit w/ PB dip – carrots, apples, celery


veggies – sugar peas, cucumbers (with lemon & salt), steamed broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, carrots, roast butternut squash, red pepper, celery, corn on the cob

waldorf salad

bars (Lara, Jam Frankas,)

fruit leather

baked apple

pumpkin seeds


sweet potato chips

fridge fudge (mixture of PB, honey, cocoa powder, dry fruit, nuts, seeds and coconut)

yogurt with fruit

Chex mix

apple rings w/ PB & dry fruit/nut topping

hummus or spinach dip w/ crackers or pita chips

fresh or canned fruit


apples w/ cinnamon





corn bread

devilled egg

BEVERAGES (*Usually just water)

chocolate milk/hot chocolate


iced tea



Cake/ mini cupcake


Mini pie


Envirokids or Enjoy Life bars

Apple crisp

Rice krispy bar (GF homemade version)

Brownie bite


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More canning and organizing

More canning the other day, although the weather is not cooperating - it's in the 90's.  Way too hot, even though I do the actual canning outdoors (I really need a shade tent!).  Got 10 half pints of strawberry-honey jam and 13 half pints of blueberry jam put up.  Hopefully I'll get a picture added soon - they're so pretty!

Next up, I hope to try making some pickled carrots/onions/jalapenos since the local grocery stores no longer carry them.  Right now we're left to stock up any time we make it up to Spokane, so it would be great if I could master making them myself.

School starts in two weeks, so I'm starting to get into stock-up mode (baking extra bread, muffins, cookies and getting other snack foods made).  However, I ran into a problem this year.  My freezers are too full to hold extra baked goods.  So, I've spent snippets of time over the past few days to inventory all that is lurking in the depths of the freezers.  Now it's time to start some menu planning to use up some of this bounty!  (And, canning some mother was generous with it this year and brought me 72 cups of frozen rhubarb!!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Canning begins...

I've been busy this week with the start of canning/drying/freezing/fermenting.  Last weekend I picked up 2 boxes of apricots and a large cabbage at the farmer's market.  I canned 5 pints of apricot sauce, dried 5 trays of apricot leather and 8 trays of apricot halves (giving me a gallon jar of dried).  I'm attempting my first batch ever of sauerkraut, so I'm crossing my fingers that I have something decent to show for my efforts in 5 weeks.

A couple of days ago, a dear friend let me raid her cherry tree.  I harvested two large sand buckets full, which gave me enough to freeze 5 4-cup bags and bake a cobbler.  Last year I canned the cherries, so I'm interested to see which method produces a better product.

Today I tackled the blueberries (unfortunately, from the grocery store) that have been taking up my refrigerator for the past two days (I played hookie yesterday to take the kids to the beach).  I canned 11 pints of blueberry syrup and started a blueberry-basil vinegar that sounded interesting.  The vinegar needs to steep for 4 weeks, though, so I'll have to report back then.  My basil is growing like mad, so I'm interested in trying some new recipes with it - if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I've tried many recipes over the past three years, looking for just the right basic pancake.  I think I've finally got it.


2 1/2 c. GF flour mix (I usually use Featherlight)
2 Tblsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. xanthan gum
4 eggs
2 c. water or milk substitute (with 2 tsp. lemon juice added per cup)
1/4 c. canola oil

Mix all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Add wet ingredients and mix for ~5 minutes at medium-high speed with a whisk attachment until smooth.  Cook on a hot griddle.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Well, I thought that summer would be a good time to start this blog...nothing much to do, no strict schedules to get in the way...  However, somehow, it seems that my summer is slipping away from me.  So, I apologize for the lack of new posts.  I promise I'll try to do better.

Since my last post, we've been busy!  I took the boys to their first circus, which they absolutely loved! 
We spent a weekend camping - a friend was visiting up in the Farragut Park area, so we hoped to camp there.  Unfortunately, it was the first beautiful weekend and the campground was full the first night, so we kept driving a ways further and camped at Springy Point.  Next morning we broke camp early and headed back to Farragut, managing to snag the very last camp site they had.  We hiked around the park and visited their very cool Brig Museum.  My mom visited for the afternoon and took the boys hiking some more while I got to go visit with my friend.  We spent a few hours at the beach the next day, before heading home.
Fourth of July was a blast - my parents came down for the weekend and we enjoyed lots of time with family and good food.  We even braved the expedition to Pullman, Washington to see the fireworks display.  It was great, as usual - my parents thought it was the best they'd ever seen!
Now, my mother-in-law is spending a couple of weeks with us, which has been great - we don't get to see her often enough.  And, there's finally time for her to teach me some authentic Mexican cooking!  She's giving me her beautiful wooden tortilla press, so I can finally make decent corn tortillas (you have no idea how excited this makes me!).  I must admit I wasn't thrilled about the first meal she taught me (my husband chose the foods he wanted me to learn to make)...any vegetarians should not read any further...The first meal we made was tongue tacos.  Yep - beef tongue.  I couldn't bring myself to try it, but everyone else enjoyed it immensely.
The second meal I learned was chicken mole, completely from scratch.  There are SO many ingredients in it!  Time consuming, but not too difficult (I think...I just watched while she made it).  It was absolutely delicious!  I'll try to share the recipe soon.
Next up will be tamales, which I'm thrilled to finally learn, and then tripe (not keen to learn, but it's my husband's favorite, so I suppose...)

Amongst all of that, I've been trying to stock up on my baking.  My brother gets married on the 24th and I'll be spending some extra time there, visiting with out of town family, so I have to plan all my meals to take up with me.  Usually, I don't have to pack much to go up to my parents' house, as they are great about the gluten issues, but with so many extra people there, I don't count on having a clean kitchen to work in.

So, that's a quick update in a nutshell.  I'll get back to posting about food very soon.  Hope you're all enjoying the summer, too!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hiking with a purpose

Well, I've been so busy lately, now that the weather has finally turned, that I haven't been keeping up with new posts.  The garden's all in, though and with our first camping trip under our belts, I think I can slow down a bit.  We went for an evening hike a week ago to Spring Valley Reservoir - a nice, mellow jaunt around the water, with no elevation change. It's a beautiful area, although a bit too mucky this time (I hadn't taken into account all the rain we'd been getting.)

Now, for a bit of a rant. I always bring a plastic grocery bag with me when hiking and pick up any trash that I see. It just makes me sick to see trash strewn about. During our last three hikes, I'd barely gotten any garbage on the trails (at Hobo Historical Trail I had picked up numerous cans/bottles at the trail head).  However, I was sadly disappointed in the state of Spring Valley.  By the time I made the full loop, my bag was stuffed to overflowing and that didn't even touch the trash left at the picnic/camping areas around the back side of the reservoir where I saw bags (even one full-size black trash bag!) - no way I could haul all of it out myself.  Why do people think this is acceptable?  If you're out for a hike, or even a stroll around your neighborhood, please join me in grabbing a bag and picking up any trash you find along the way.  It's not "someone else's" problem to deal with, it's everyone's.  Take a few minutes to keep the area around you beautiful.

Growing up in a very rural area, the surrounding community would come together every spring for a "Road Clean-up".  It was an event we all looked forward to for the fun and camaraderie - starting at the top of the road, folks would join in along the entire route (maybe 10 miles total) - walking, driving ATVs or pickup trucks, families with children of all ages.  The vehicles would creep along at walking pace, so those on foot could pick up trash and add it to the bags in the vehicles. The kids would walk and help when they could, or hop in for a ride when they needed a break.  These were the days when rural areas just had multiple dumpsters in an area for folks to bring their garbage to; the area wasn't fenced or anything, so unfortunately, local bears and other critters would help themselves, causing garbage to be strewn up the hill behind the dumpsters.  Once we reached the dumpster area, the group would spend some extra time there, dumping what had been collected and cleaning up the surrounding area.  After that, we'd all convene at the local school just a bit further down the road, for an afternoon & evening of softball, playing, and a huge chili feed.  It was a great way to grow up - this wonderful sense of community and a concern for each other and the area around us.  I miss that - it's not something I see much of these days.  So, please, keep an eye out around you as you travel through your days - see what you can do to improve the area around you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's for dinner? Grilled skirt steak, green salad with strawberries & baked potato

In honor of the first day of summer, I give you...Strawberries!  Since we are still stuck in this wet, cold funk, I wanted to share at least a beautiful picture that reminds me that summer should be just around the corner.  I picked up a flat of strawberries a couple of weeks ago at a steal of a deal AND they were perfect - only had two bad ones in the whole bunch!  I was hoping to make some strawberry jam, but didn't have the time, so, instead I dried them and will tuck them away for topping cereal next winter.

I dried 7 trays of plain, sliced strawberries and 2 trays of strawberry slices dipped in 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar + 2 Tbsp sugar (heat to boiling in microwave ~2 minutes, then mix strawberries into it, remove & dry).  YUM!  There were enough fresh strawberries left for the boys to snack on and then the rest inspired this meal...

Spinach, lettuce, arugula salad (from the garden!) with fresh strawberries, pecan bits and balsamic dressing, with baked potato and grilled skirt steak

Friday, June 18, 2010

What's for dinner? Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza?  When I first started needing to avoid foods, this was one of the hardest things to give up.  Thankfully, it wasn't too long before I came across a pizza crust recipe that was pretty good (of course, the lack of cheese choices still left a lot to be desired).  I've used Bette Hagman's recipe for Pat's Thin Yeast Crust (The Gluten-free Gourmet) for a couple of years, with good reviews, however, I've keep my eyes open for a good, thick-crust recipe.  Not long ago, I came across The Happy Tummy recipe.  Her enthusiasm was infectious and I just had to try it.  Her step-by-step instructions are awesome, too.
I've since made this recipe half a dozen times and my family raves about it.  I've made a couple of changes, but the recipe is still essentially the same as Bekah's:

Perfect Gluten Free Pizza
Makes 2  10 inch pizzas. . . can feed two very hungry adults or 4 moderately hungry people.  It fed our family of 5 plenty and we still had 2 pieces left over. (I double the recipe and make individual pizzas for each of us.  The kids' are probably 6" pizzas, while mine and my husband's are larger & I keep half of mine for the next day. ~Raechel)
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup white rice flour (don’t use brown. . . you will get a more gritty texture if you do) (I actually have good luck using Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour. ~Raechel)
1/3 cup corn starch
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tsp italian seasonings (optional)
1/2 cup whole milk (I leave this out and increase the water to 3/4 cup. ~R)
1/4 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, from 1 (1/4-ounce) package
2 teaspoons sugar
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten (I've had good luck using one whole egg, instead.  ~R)
2 tablespoons olive oil + plus more to use on your hands when handling the dough
Whatever sauce (I used store bought), toppings, and cheese you like
In bowl of electric mixer, mix together tapioca flour, rice flour, corn starch, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, salt and yeast.

Add hot water (105-115 degrees), egg, and 2 tablespoons oil to dry ingredients and beat at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until dough is very smooth and very thick, about 5 minutes.  The dough will still be pretty sticky which is ok.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Put your baking sheet in the oven on the bottom rack to preheat.

Have ready two 12-inch squares parchment paper, dusted with white rice flour, or Silpat baking mats.  Scrape half of dough onto each square and use a rubber spatula to spread dough out into a 1/4-inch-thick circle, leaving the edges thicker (about 1/2-inch).

This is what it should look like:

Loosely cover rounds with plastic wrap and let rise in warm draft-free place until each pizza is about 10 inches in diameter, about 20 minutes. I let mine rise on top of the stove.  The subtle heat from the oven while it is preheating was perfect for helping my dough rise.

Transfer crusts with parchment to preheated pizza stone or baking sheet and bake on bottom rack about 5 minutes, until dough is slightly firm to the touch.  You will notice your dough getting nice and bubbly, just starting to brown.
(If you want to freeze pizza for later, now is the time to do it.  Let the crust cool now and then top with your sauce, toppings, and cheese.  Wrap well with plastic wrap and freeze for another time.  When you are ready to bake these, let them sit out for about 15-20 minutes to partially thaw, preheat oven to 400 and bake for 10-15 minutes on the bottom rack until nicely browned.)
Remove from the oven and gently slide the parchment paper out from under each crust so that the crust is now directly on your baking sheet.  (It won’t stick now that it is partially baked.  Top with your sauce and desired toppings.  We used red peppers, onions, baby spinach, spicy sausage and turkey pepperoni but by all means, use whatever your family likes.

**BEKAH'S UPDATE: I made this pizza today and did not let it rise, curious if it would rise well in the oven without a previous rising on the counter. It rose WONDERFULLY.  no more waiting for it to rise. Just pat it out the way you like it (using oil and as little flour as possible on your hands) and put it on the bottom rack of your preheated oven. Amazing. So excited because this means I can have pizza ready from start to finish in such a short amount of time. **

Bake on the bottom rack for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and your crust is wonderfully browned.  Cool for about 5 minutes and then serve!

This is my pizza with spinach (fresh from the garden), pineapple, ham, fresh basil and cashew cheese.  The boys used the Daiya cheese on theirs and my husband used dairy cheese. ~Raechel

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another beautiful hike

Last weekend, the weather finally warmed up into the 70's and it was beautiful!  On Sunday, we packed a picnic lunch, got a late start (as usual), and hit the road.  We'd originally planned to go to the Elk Creek Falls, but with our late departure, decided to stop a little closer to home, at Spring Valley Resevoir.  However, when we arrived (which we should have accounted for), it was packed, so we drove a bit further, to Moose Creek Resevoir...same story.  In the end, we munched a snack on the road while the 4-year-old napped, and drove all the way out to Elk Creek Falls anyway.  It was worth the drive!  We haven't hiked there in at least 5 years, and it was a nice treat to make the hike while not pregnant (I have been at least 2 times I've hiked it), or either of us having to pack a toddler on our backs.

Fresh from the oven - Cranberry Coffee Cake & Chocolate Carrot Cake

Happy Birthday to Me!  Saturday was my birthday.  My boys woke up early to make me breakfast, all by themselves - coffee cake, hash browns, scrambled eggs and orange juice.  When I came downstairs around 7:30, the coffee cake was already coming out of the oven and filled the house with its deliciousness.  J & K were bustling around the kitchen, grating potatoes for the hash browns and carrots for my cake.  So efficient!  (Usually when they make breakfast, it's a leisure affair, with the meal arriving on the table around 11:00.)

Cranberry-Plus Coffee Cake
from Bette Hagman's Gluten-Free Gourmet
Makes 9 servings

2 large eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. mayonnaise (we use Spectrum Canola Mayonnaise)
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries
1 c. chopped fruit or grated vegetable (we use chopped apples)
1/2 c. chopped pecans, walnuts or macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x9-inch cake pan and dust with rice flour.  

In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, sugar and mayonnaise.

Whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, spice, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir into the egg mixture, blending well.  Stir in the whole cranberries, chopped fruit and nuts.

Spread batter into the prepared pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until cake feels firm when touched in the center and edges begin to pull from pan, about 45 minutes.  Cut into squares and serve either warm or cool.  Can be make ahead and kept covered with plastic wrap for up to 3 days. 

Cook's note: We like to sprinkle a bit of raw sugar on the top before baking.  For a birthday treat, the boys sprinkled a few chocolate chips instead.

Now, the above picture was actually the coffeecake that my children made.  They really are getting pretty good at cooking and baking.  However, they're still learning (they're only 10, 8, and 4, after all).  The cake gave them a bit of trouble as it was uncharted territory for them.  However, they still managed, all by themselves, to bake and decorate a cake for me, which makes me very happy and proud.

Although I admit to a bit of trepidation in trying the cake, it actually tasted great despite it's looks.  The boys had stacked the layers together before it had cooled, then tried to split them apart, which caused a complete disaster for the top layer.  Then, they tried a new icing recipe, which clearly did not congeal properly.  Really, though, the cake tasted great.  If the picture didn't scare you off, here's the recipe for the cake.

Chocolate Carrot Cake
from Bette Hagman's The Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Dessert

A new and exciting carrot cake and a very good keeper.  This is as moist and tender as the others but made especially for chocolate lovers.  It can be made in a bundt pan and drizzled with a simple icing of powdered sugar and orange juice.  Or make the large 2-layer cake and create a masterpiece by filling and topping with either a cream cheese frosting or my Baker's Secret Icing (page 131).

1 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. Egg Replacer
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil (canola)
4 eggs
2 c. finely grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
One 11-oz. can mandarin oranges drained, cut into 1/2" sections

Preheat oven to 375 degrees for bundt pan, 350 degrees for two 8" or 9" round cake pans.  Spray chosen pan(s) with vegetable oil spray and dust lightly with rice flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, Egg Replacer, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, beat the oil and eggs on medium high until well blended and thick (about 2 minutes).  Add the dry ingredients and beat on low to blend.  Increase the speed and beat 1 minute longer (the batter will seem very thick).  With a spoon, stir in the carrots, nuts and orange peel.  Stir in the orange pieces.

Spoon into the pan(s).  Bake the bundt cake at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 15 minutes longer or until a tester inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.  If using the round cake pans, bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.

Fresh from the oven - Chocolate Mint Bars

Another goody from the end-of-school parties.  These are addictive.  You've been warned.

Chocolate-Mint Bars
adapted by Raechel Medina from Cooking Light's recipe
The dense base layer is like a rich, fudgy brownie, so don't overcook it or the dessert bars will be dry.  Refrigerating the mint bars allows the chocolaty top layer to set properly.  You can make the dessert up to one day ahead.

Bottom layer:
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, beaten
oil spray

Mint layer:
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. Spectrum shortening, melted
2 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
2 drops green food coloring

3/4 c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. Spectrum shortening

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare the bottom layer, combine flour, salt and xanthan gum.  Set aside.  In mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.  Add flour mixture, stirring until well blended.  Pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with oil spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean.  Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

To prepare mint layer, combine ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth.  Spread mint mixture over cooled cake.

To prepare glaze, combine chocolate chips and 3 Tbsp shortening in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring after 30 seconds.  Let stand 2 minutes.  Spread mixture evenly over top.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Fresh from the oven - Cashew Cookies

Last week, during the flurry of end-of-the-year school parties, J had an "Amigos Party", to celebrate the end of their studies of Central and South America.  They were asked to bring food representing these areas.  Scouring the web, I found a recipe for Brazilian Cashew Cookies, which sounded tasty, so I gave them a try.

3/4 c. raw cashews (3 1/2 oz.)
1/2 c. Featherlight Flour Mix
1/3 c. corn starch
6 Tbsp. Spectrum shortening
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grind 1/2 cup of the cashews in a food processor to flour, being careful not to turn them into cashew butter.  Spread nut flour on baking sheet and toast for 6-8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.  Cool completely.

Mix flour, cornstarch and xanthan gum, set aside.  In another bowl, beat shortening and sugar for 3 minutes.  Add toasted nut flour and salt.  Mix.  Reduce to low speed and add flour mixture.

Form dough into rectangular block and roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 10"x8" rectangle.  Chill dough 10 minutes.

Coarsely chop remaining nuts.  Sprinkle on cookies.  Bake until golden, 14-16 minutes.  Remove and cool.

My notes: Since this was for a class party, I rolled the dough into logs (I made a quadruple batch), in plastic wrap, then chilled and sliced into rounds.  The cookies were very crumbly after they were baked and I thought they were a flop.  Left them on the trays overnight, though, and the texture improved, although still crumbly.  The taste was a hit with everyone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's for dinner? Black Bean Soup

Our early summer weather has been slow to warm up this year.  Lots of chilly, rainy days.  So, I had yet another excuse to make one of my very favorite soups last week - Black Bean Soup.  This recipe would be easy to make vegan and has a wonderful flavor.

Black Bean Soup
By Raechel Medina

Makes 4 main-dish servings
Olive or canola oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 1/2 c. chopped carrots
3/4 c. chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. chicken broth (homemade or Kitchen Basics)
1 1/2 c. water
4 c. pre-cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. red pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper
Salt, to taste
2 c. cooked rice (optional)

Splash a bit of oil into a large pot.  Cook onion, carrots, celery and garlic, stirring frequently, until tender.  Stir in water, broth, beans, cilantro, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, red & black pepper.

Puree about half of the soup (I do this with an immersion blender right in the pot, leaving some whole veggies and beans for texture.  You can also put about half of the soup into a blender to puree it - just be sure to hold the blender lid on with a towel over it, then and it back to the pot of soup.)  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Serve over rice, if desired, with a dollop of "cheese" on top.

Summer vacation begins!

It's been a crazy week, so I apologize for the lack of posts.  Yesterday was the boys' last day of school, and the last few days were full of activities and parties.  (Which meant late nights of baking for me!)

So, here we are, the beginning of summer - so many plans and aspirations.  We're hopeful that we can get in a lot of hiking  some camping, gardening, swimming, lounging around and maybe even learn a few things.  We've managed two family hikes already, since Memorial Day.  The first entailed a very long drive, culminating in a beautiful 2+ mile hike on the  Hobo Historical Trail. We were shooting for the Hobo Cedar Grove Trail, but it was still snowed in. The second hike was the Kamiak Butte Trail, a 3.5 mile loop with beautiful views of the Palouse.  The boys (even the 4-year-old) were real troopers and had a blast.  Looking forward to many more hikes! 

Friday, June 4, 2010

What's for dinner? Easy Summer Pasta

This is one of my favorite, stand-by, quick meals.  I spent way too many hours planting flowers in my garden yesterday, even though I had no plan for dinner (oops!).  So, it was definitely a pasta night.  This is, of course, even better with ingredients fresh from your garden (and hopefully our weather warms up and dries out soon so my garden has a shot).
Easy Summer Pasta
by Raechel Medina

1 pkg Tinkyada brown rice fussili pasta
1/2 pkg bacon
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or use halved cherry tomatoes)
10 large fresh basil leaves, rinsed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
kosher salt & fresh-ground black pepper

In a large pot, bring water to boil, then cook pasta, following package directions.  Meanwhile, slice and cook bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan, drain and set aside.

As soon as pasta is done cooking, remove from heat and drain water.  Place minced garlic in the bottom of the still-hot pan.  Add the other ingredients, drizzling a bit of olive oil so the pasta doesn't stick and adding salt and pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly and serve.

Note: the rest of my family likes to add a bit of balsamic vinegar to this as well.  A couple of them also add a dash of onion powder to their serving.