Friday, December 2, 2011


I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and/or friends.  We spent a wonderful few days with my family this year - the first Thanksgiving I've spent there since I moved out after high school!  Usually, we spend the holiday with my in-laws, but couldn't manage the long travel time this year.

Somehow, November just slipped right by has much of this year.  During November, though, I was seeing many posts on Facebook, giving daily thanks for things.  I kept thinking, "what a great idea, I should do that...".  And yet, the days kept passing me by and I kept not acting.  On the same thread, I've recently been reading two very interesting books about scaling down and living more simply - Radical Simplicity: Creating an Authentic Life by Dan Price, and Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth.  These have really gotten me pondering my life and the things I am grateful for and the things I should be more aware of and work at scaling down.  So often we take things for granted and feel entitled to so many things in this consumeristic society.  I want to be more conscious and more thankful in going forward.  I challenge all of you to do the same.  Re-think what is necessary and important in your life.  Embrace it and stop the cycle of always wanting, wanting more.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fair season

Our fair is a few weeks away, yet, but a friend was asking me for an elephant ear recipe the other day, so I thought I'd take a few minutes and add it here.  Last year, I surprised my boys when we went to the fair and packed a picnic lunch of "fair food" - hotdogs, potato chips and elephant ears.  You should have seen the looks on their faces!  After years of yearning for elephant ears - their smell wafting through the fairgrounds, I finally came across a recipe that I could tweak to satisfy our cravings.

Elephant Ears                                                                                makes 8 rounds
 modified by Raechel Medina from 'Fried Flat Bread' recipe in Allergy Friendly Food by Dr. Anne R. Swain, Dr. Velencia L. Soutter and Dr. Robert H. Loblay

1/3 c. brown rice flour
3/4 c. potato starch
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. canola oil
3/4 - 1 c. warm water, approximately
canola oil, extra, for frying

Sift the rice flour, potato starch and baking powder into a large bowl.  Add the salt.  Make a well in the center and add the oil.  Gradually stir in the water, mixing until a thick batter is formed.

Heat 1/2 inch oil in frying pan and pour in enough batter to form a round about 4-5 inches across.  Fry until golden brown, then turn and brown the other side.  Drain on paper towels very briefly, then dredge in cinnamon-sugar.  Place back on paper towel.  Repeat with the remaining batter.  Add more oil to the pan as needed, ensuring it is heated through before use.

*I used a clean, empty ketchup bottle to squeeze the batter into the oil, a la funnel cake-style.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A new yogurt!

Okay, thanks to a prod from a friend, I'm going to try to get better about posting again!  Honest!

So, about a month ago, I ran across a new yogurt - Amande - an almond-milk-based yogurt from Cascade.  What really got me excited was that I can actually have it!  (Other yogurts, like the SoDelicious Coconut, use guar gum, which doesn't agree with me.)  Amande is reasonably priced (compared to other comparable yogurts), around $1.50/6oz. container, or $1.30 on sale.  It's gluten-, dairy-, soy-free and fruit juice sweetened.  Locally, I've only been able to try the peach and raspberry flavors, but I saw the other flavors at a store by my mom's.  I'll be waiting to try those soon!  The boys also got to try the yogurt...RAVE reviews!  We all loved the creamy texture.  I appreciated the natural colors (but not "natural" grey-tinged like the Riceara.).  The peach left a bit to be desired flavor-wise, as it was pretty mellow, but that could have been just me getting used to the 'juice sweetened' aspect.  I really liked the raspberry one, though - very tasty!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Updated Honey Flax Bread recipe

I've been tweaking this recipe a bit ever since I started making it and realized today that the recipe I'd originally posted is significantly different from my current recipe, so I thought I'd update.

Honey Flax Bread - version 2
by Raechel Medina

makes 2 9x5 loaves
6 c. brown rice flour
1 c. sorghum flour
1/2 c. flaxmeal
3 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbsp. salt
4 1/2 tsp. yeast
1/4 c. honey
4 c. warm water
3 eggs
1/2 c. canola oil
2 tsp. vinegar

Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Add all wet ingredients.  Beat on medium for about 8 minutes. While the mixer runs, grease two 9x5-inch bread pans and set aside. Scrape batter into pans and smooth the top.  Let rise in a warm place for about one hour. Bake in a pre-heated, 375 degrees for 65 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately take loaves out of pans and let cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Bunny Skills

I had to share - the Easter Bunny had a lot of fun hiding the eggs outside this year.  Such beautiful weather & fun was had by all!

 That bunny must be tall!

How sneaky are these?

And, sometimes, it's the most obvious that are missed...


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter...a little late...

We enjoyed a wonderful, beautiful Easter weekend with family.  The weather was amazing - first time we've hit 60 degrees this year!

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

I had a lot of fun using natural (food-based) dyes for the Easter eggs this year, and got some really pretty ones.  Although the family mocked the brown, natural and "grey" ones, they were a hit for the egg hunt - very tricky to find!
To dye the eggs, I added the food or spice to the pot of water, a splash of vinegar and the eggs and brought them to a boil.  Lowered the temperature and simmered for about 15 minutes.  The dark brown ones were made using coffee grounds, pale natural colored ones were soaked in a puree of chiles, the orange speckled ones in paprika, the greyish ones were grape juice, yellow were turmeric and the pinkish ones were originally beets, but when that didn't give them much color I added some hibiscus flowers as well.

For dinner, we had a baked ham with a glaze of molasses, brown sugar and mustard; devilled eggs, peas, green salad with two types of vinaigrette (orange and pomegranate), mashed potatoes with fresh chives from the garden and rolls made from a Pamela's mix. Delicious!

Angel Pie for Dessert
Was looking for something to do with some strawberries I'd picked up, and thought about making a strawberry-rhubarb pie, but that seemed too heavy.  Scanned through some cookbooks and came across this recipe for Angel Pie from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. 
4 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. heavy cream*
1/3 c. confectioners' sugar*
8 whole strawberries

*Substituted the real whip cream for the recipe below.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Grease a pie pan.  Combine the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric beater until soft peaks form.  Slowly add 1 cup of the granulated sugar and beat until shiny peaks form.  Spread the mixture over the bottom of the pie pan and build it up around the rim about 1 inch higher than the edge of the pan.  Bake for about 1 hour or until lightly brown and firm to the touch.  Turn off the heat and let cool in the oven with the door open.  While the crust is cooling, beat the egg yolks until they are thick and pale.  Slowly beat in the remaining 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar.  Add the lemon juice.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.  Cool.  Spread in the meringue until it holds soft peaks.  Spoon the cream* over the top and decorate with the strawberries.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Vegan Whipped Topping
from The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook by Cybele Pascal

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c. rice milk (*I used cashew milk)
1/2 c. dairy-free, soy-free vegetable shortening
1/2 c. caster sugar (very fine)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Whisk together the cornstarch and rice milk in a small heavy saucepan until smooth, being sure to whisk out any lumps.
Bring to just below a simmer (a scald) over medium-low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until it thickens (this happens very quickly, in about 1 minute or less).  Remove from heat and stir vigorously until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the shortening and caster sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, then add the vanilla.  Continue to beat while adding the cooled rice milk mixture, until fully incorporated, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.  Beat for 2 to 3 more minutes, or until light and fluffy, making sure you've whipped out any lumps.  Serve at room temperature (it solidifies when chilled).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Food for thought

I've been thinking about food a lot lately.  Rather, thinking about how lucky our family is that we have access to, and know how to prepare healthy food.
I few months ago, we finally got around to watching Supersize Me, about the ghastly effects of fast food on our nation's health.  J watched it again, at school, last month (actually needed a signed permission slip to watch it, uhg!).  It brought up some interesting conversations with the boys.  They were quite bewildered and shocked by how unhealthy the food was...and why anyone would eat it on a regular basis. 
Yesterday, in light of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution season 2 beginning, we've started watching season 1.  Again, very interesting.  The boys had a lot to say about it this morning.  They were thankful for the lunches they bring from home every day and thought it was crazy the types of foods that were regularly served on the show for school lunches.  They couldn't believe that the family portrayed on the show would eat as unhealthy as they did.  They were blown away when I told them that a large proportion on Americans do eat that way every day.  They could not imagine it.
Since our change in diet almost 3 years ago, I can count on one hand how many times we've eaten out.  I'm quite proud of how far we've come, because it wasn't always this way.  I grew up eating healthy, homegrown, home cooked meals.  It was a very rare treat to go out to a restaurant - something that was done for a birthday occasionally, or on trips.  My mom raised a huge garden, canned the surplus, baked everything from scratch.  We raised goats and chickens and ducks.  My dad hunted for our meat - venison, duck, geese.  We bought in bulk and rarely ate processed foods.  When I moved out and went to college and started my own life, things slowly started to change.  I worked in fast food restaurants, which meant a lot of free or cheap unhealthy food made up a lot of my meals.  My (now) husband did the same.  Our schedules were crazy busy, juggling multiple jobs apiece and school.  Then we got married and had children.  It just seemed that everything was always so busy and it was easier to just grab something quick from a restaurant.  Couldn't think of something to cook for dinner?  Well, let's grab burgers, or pizza, or fried chicken...
So, when my health declined so quickly and we subsequently found that we needed to drastically change the way we ate, it was a huge blow.  I spent months crying nearly every day out of the frustration I felt - we couldn't have the foods we knew and were easy.  There was a mental block for awhile there - I just couldn't think of anything we could eat anymore.  Thankfully, I had my background to fall back on.  Once I got my feet back under me, I was able to pick myself back up and do something about it.  I looked at it as a challenge, an experience, an adventure.  Sure  I couldn't have x, y, or z anymore BUT, could I make it myself and make it healthy for us?  By the time my boys joined me on this adventure of a diet, about 6 months after I'd started, I felt like I could do it.  We are so much healthier for it.  Not only did we cut out the foods that our bodies were reacting to, but in the process shed much of the processed garbage that has become so commonplace in today's society and on our plates.
Of course I miss the convenience sometimes, but I can honestly say there's not much I truly miss, food-wise.  I'm thankful every day that we are able to live a healthier and more mindful life, even if it was an illness that had to open our eyes to it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oh my! Best pumpkin bars ever!

I love the Gluten Free Goddess blog and I frequently browse it. I stumbled across her recipe for Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bars  and I happened to have a few pumpkins left in storage that needed to be used up, so thought I'd try them.  They are DIVINE!  The brown sugar & spice frosting was a major hit here.  The boys and hubby all thought it tasted like maple.  I think it would be a great stand in for cream cheese frosting on a spice or carrot cake.  This recipe will definitely become a regular!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Traveling Child, Part Two

Well, my son's trip went well.  I didn't hear from the chaperone until the night before he left, so I'm glad I planned ahead.
Since it was such a quick trip, they were limited to just a carry-on bag, so I had to make sure the foods I packed wouldn't be confiscated by security.  I wound up packing him a little container of salad dressing, a bar, muffin, couple of cookies, fruit, 2 slices of bread and a packet of peanut butter, crackers and beef jerky.  We drove J. up to the airport, so he ate lunch on the way.  Dinner, once he got there, was to be roast chicken, baked potato and salad, which should have been fine, but I reminded J. to ask about how the chicken was prepared.  Which was a good thing, since it had been cooked with soy sauce!  So, he skipped the chicken and had a huge, plain baked potato and salad.  Breakfast went fine - the muffin I'd packed, eggs and bacon.  Lunch, he brought a sandwich with him and was able to grab cantaloupe and something else from the cafeteria.  This trip, I made sure he had some money along, in case it was needed (learned my lesson after the last trip).  He bought a snack at the airport, but that was it.  Fortunately, he didn't need it again as he lost his wallet.  (Thankfully, the airline found and returned it later in the week.)
Oh, and my son did well at the competition - their team came in 3rd place and he came in 14th as an individual.  He won't be making it to nationals this year, but that's okay (I don't think I'm ready for him to take a trip across the country just yet).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The traveling child

So, this year has been fraught with a new anxiety for me.  My eldest has become quite the outgoing, social butterfly this year.  Now that he's in junior high, he has the opportunity to join extracurricular activities.  And join, he did.  He has groups that meet three or four afternoons per week and has his lunchtime booked four days a week (with plans to start a chess club on the open day).  I'm exhausted just contemplating his schedule!  But, this is all him - he took the lead to join all of these groups.  Our only conditions were that he keeps up with his homework and chore obligations and we couldn't be expected to swing paying for a lot of extra outings.

Two of the groups he participates in are Math Counts and Knowledge Bowl.  His Knowledge Bowl team made it to regionals - a two day, overnight excursion, and his Math Counts team had a day trip to for regionals.  Math Counts has made it into the state competition, which is a two day trip (with a flight and an overnight stay).  All of this travel away from me has tossed us into uncharted territory.  My son has never spent much time away from us, and we have pretty much avoided going out to restaurants for the past four years, since my diagnosis.  So, now we're faced with the situation of him having to fend for himself meal-wise on these trips.  J has always been very good at reading labels and checking foods to ensure they were safe for him to eat and, so far as I've been able to discern, he's asymptomatic if he does eat something he shouldn't.  This makes it relatively easy for him to go on these trips, although not without some major planning and legwork on my part.

His first trip was only an afternoon, so we treated it like any other school day and I packed his lunch and a snack for him to bring along.  The team was being treated to pizza and soda for lunch, so he asked that I pack him a pizza (whew, thank goodness for extra crusts in the freezer!), and he had soda with the group.

The next trip was trickier - the group took the 2 hour drive up, stopping at an A&W for lunch.  Then they had some competitions before checking into their hotel and getting dinner at another restaurant.  The second day's plan was complimentary breakfast at the hotel, then competitions, lunch at the college cafeteria, more competitions and then stopping at a grocery store with a deli for dinner on the drive home.  So, what did I do?  Well, I started by looking up restaurants' online menus to see if there was anything remotely safe for J.  A&W - no.  Nothing but the drinks.  For dinner, they weren't sure where they'd go, so I checked for restaurants around the hotel to see what was available - a Wendy's and a Chili's.  I checked their menus and made lists for J to bring along so he'd know what was safe for him.  For breakfast, I contacted the hotel to see if there might be anything suitable for him on their breakfast menu.  Thankfully, I got a very helpful and prompt reply from the manager stating that he had spoken with the kitchen manager and here was a list of safe items for my son.  He also gave me the name of the cook who would be there that morning so J could contact him directly for help.  The college cafeteria was equally helpful, even asking what my son's favorite foods were so they could be prepared for him!

With all that leg work out of the way, I felt better.  I coached J on his responsibility to be aware and to check with the cooks to make sure things were going to be safe and to thank them all for their help on his behalf.  I printed up a few wallet cards in case he wanted to give them to the cooks to better describe what foods he cannot have.  On the day of, I packed him a lunch to eat at A&W, packed some other snacks/emergency foods just in case (some fruit, bars, couple slices of bread, peanut butter, trail mix), and some cash for dining out.

My husband, our two other boys and myself drove up to see J compete the afternoon of the second day.  They were just getting back from lunch, which, J informed me did not wind up being at the cafeteria - instead they went to the Pita Pit.  He said he was good about talking to the folks there, had them change their gloves, clean the counter, and he ordered a salad with grilled meat (after making sure the grill was not used to heat the pitas or anything else that would cross-contaminate).  Yay, J!  I was so proud of him!  It sounded like he did just what he should have and did great.  I must admit that although he is very responsible and understanding about the foods he can/cannot have, he is rather absentminded sometimes.  Pair that with the fact that he's still so young (two years younger than his class peers), and I still worry.

After the competition, they found that they weren't going on so they headed home early, negating the need for dinner on the road.  Other than a short worry that he'd been contaminated by something (a dash to the bathroom shortly after lunch; however, he concluded that it was likely from the soda he'd drank at three of the four meals.  Uh, yeah, that was probably it - we RARELY have soda at home.), the whole trip went very well.  My take-away from it was to prepare, prepare and then have a contingency plan.  With them changing plans and going out to eat for lunch, J would not have had money to buy anything at the store had they stopped for dinner.  He wouldn't have starved, as I'd packed him the extra snacks, but he wouldn't have been happy to have a peanut butter sandwich when everyone else was buying something.  So, next time, I'll send him with a little more cash than anticipated.

His upcoming trip is going to be trickier yet, as it involves a flight.  I'm still trying to work out the details on that one.  I haven't had luck contacting the teacher that is taking the kids, to discuss the food issue.  Their plan is to stay at the teacher's aunt's house, so she'll be providing meals.  However, without prior confirmation, I don't think I'll trust that that will work.  So, I'm trying to figure out quick and easy meal ideas that J can pack in his carry on that will pass the TSA inspection and not require refrigeration or heating.  So far, I've picked up a can of Hormel Dinty Moore Beef Stew that I'm hoping will work (and he can heat it up at the host's house).  I'll also pack some bread and peanut butter, bars, fruit and hoping to make some crackers and beef jerky as well.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Feeling guilty

My apologies for the lack of new posts.  I don't know where February went.

I haven't been doing much in the way of new recipes lately, so haven't felt the urge to post anything.  I am, however, working on making my Honey Flax Bread egg-less.  I think I'm almost ready for its debut, so stay tuned.

I've also been keeping up with my 'healthier me' plan, which I started on January 1st.  All of January, I kept up with riding my exercise bike for 20 minutes every day (I only missed one day the entire month!)  Having that kind of momentum built up has been great - I actually feel like exercising every day now (something I've never wanted to do before).  For February, I added a strength training component, in addition to the 20 minute bike ride.  Although I'm not losing weight, I am feeling healthier and more toned, which is a great feeling.  A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across the Spark People website, which is coming in very handy with this month's goal of being more aware of and eating more healthy.  Their site allows you to track meals (even adding foods or recipes that aren't already in their database - a great boon for those of us eating specialty foods).  It gives you a way to track different components of the day's food - calories, fat, carbs, fiber and individual vitamins and minerals.  There is also a section to track your fitness regiment.  I'm really excited about learning more about my diet and the particulars - what nutrients I need to beef up on and what components I need to cut back on.

I promise I'll be back soon with another delicious recipe.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fresh From the Oven - Valentine's Day cupcakes

Happy Valentine's Day!

I always try to make a special treat for my kids for Valentine's Day.  Often I make chocolates, but this year the Enjoy Life chocolate chips have gotten much more expensive so I didn't have enough on hand to make specialty chocolates.  I thought about sugar cookies, but didn't have enough time.  Finally, I settled on chocolate cupcakes with pink icing.  I've been working hard at avoiding food dyes in the foods I make, so had to come up with something I would have on hand that would make a delicious frosting.
For lunches that morning, I'd stumbled upon a bag of Jamaica flowers (hibiscus) that I kept forgetting about and decided to make the boys a beautifully red iced tea for their lunch.  (We purchase this tea in Mexican markets whenever we get the chance.  It's cheap and makes a delicious (and beautiful) iced tea.)  And, so, I had my coloring idea for the frosting.  While the cupcakes cooled, I made a very strong bit of Jamaica tea.

Then, when I made the frosting, I used the strained tea as the liquid.  The frosting turned out great, with just a hint of fruity tangy taste to it.  (One son thought it tasted a bit like strawberry icing.)

Chocolate "Buttermilk" Cake
adapted by Raechel Medina from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham
1 2/3 c. GF flour mix (I've successfully used either Featherlight or Four Flour Bean)
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (optional)
1 c. milk substitute with about 1 Tbsp lemon juice added (I've used hemp milk, cashew milk or just water)
1/2 c. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans or one 9x13-inch pan or a 12-hole muffin tin.  Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Spread into the pan(s) and bake about 20-25 minutes for the rounds, 35-45 minutes for the large or 23 minutes for cupcakes.  Test to see if a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a rack. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What's for dinner? Burgers, Potato Wedges and Coleslaw

We've been having a lot of coleslaw this winter, so I thought I should finally measure the ingredients as I toss them together so I can share my recipe.  And burgers with potato wedges have become one of my stand by, quick meals (as long as I have a batch of burger buns in the freezer).

1/4 medium head green cabbage, shredded
1/4 medium head purple cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, shredded

3/4 c. mayonnaise (I use Spectrum Canola)
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. celery seeds
3 1/2 tsp. sugar

In a large bowl, mix veggies together and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce, adjusting spices to taste if needed.  Stir until smooth.
Drizzle sauce over veggies and mix well.  Chill in refrigerator before serving (however, the longer it sits, the more it will separate - it's best within about half an hour or so of making.)  Leftovers can be stored and eaten within a day or two (at least the kids and I still like it; my husband is a bit pickier about it.

Potato Wedges

8 medium potatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Slice washed potatoes lengthwise into eighths.  Toss potato wedges into a bowl with a tightly fitting lid or a plastic bag.  Drizzle oil over the potatoes, then add spices.  Shake well to mix the spices all over the potatoes, then pour out onto an oiled cookie sheet (I line mine with foil too to make cleanup easier).  Place into oven and bake, stirring once, for about 20-30 minutes piercing with a fork to test for doneness.

Hamburger Buns
 From The Gluten-free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman

INGREDIENTS                                               6 BUNS            12 BUNS
Featherlight Rice Flour Mix                               1 ½ cups            3 cups
Xanthan gum                                                     1 tsp                  2 tsp
Egg Replacer (optional)                                     1 tsp                  2 tsp
Unflavored gelatin                                             1 tsp                   2 tsp
Baking powder                                                 1 ½ tsp               1 Tbsp
Salt                                                                   ½ tsp                 1 tsp
Sugar, divided                                                   1 ½  Tbsp          3 Tbsp
Warm water                                                      1 cup                 2 cups
Dry yeast granules                                              2 ¼ tsp              2 ¼ tsp
Dough enhancer or vinegar                                 1 tsp                  1 ½ tsp
Eggs                                                                  1                        2
Vegetable oil                                                     2 Tbsp                4 Tbsp

Place 6 (12) muffin rings on 1 (2) cookie sheet(s) and grease with vegetable oil spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour mix, xanthan gum, Egg Replacer (if using), gelatin, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  Add 1 teaspoon of the sugar to the warm water and sprinkle on the yeast.  Set aside to foam slightly.
In a large mixing bowl, blend together at low speed of a hand mixer the remaining sugar, dough enhancer, egg(s), and vegetable oil.  Add the yeast mixture.  Beat in half of the dry ingredients.  With a mixing spoon, stir in the remaining flour and beat until smooth.
Spoon the batter into the prepared rings.  (*I like to add a sprinkling of sesame seeds to each bun at this point.)  Cover lightly and let rise in a warm place until double in size (20-25 minutes for rapid-rising yeast, 40-45 minutes for regular yeast).  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-22 minutes.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's for dinner? "Cheesy" Broccoli Soup

I haven't made this for awhile, but had a hankering.  It's based off of a recipe from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook but I just used it as a guide and made my own measurements (although I must use the term loosely).  My kids raved about it.  Even hubby tried a taste (he wasn't fond of the real version before meat...but he said the taste was pretty close to the dairy-filled version, so I'll take that as a compliment.

"Cheesy" Broccoli Soup

(all measurements are a rough guide - I usually don't measure much when I make soups)

3 large carrots, diced
2 medium onions, diced
4 medium potatoes, diced
7 cups water or broth (or enough to cover cooking veggies)
3 cups cooked or canned white beans (northern or navy)
1 cup nutritional yeast
juice from half a lemon
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt (probably around 2-3 tsp if using water, less if using broth)
3 cups steamed broccoli

In a large soup pot, sautee carrot and onion until onion becomes translucent & soft.  Add potatoes and water or broth, cover and let boil until veggies are very soft.  Add beans, spices, lemon juice and nutritional yeast.  Blend in batches (be careful to hold a towel tightly over the blender lid or it will pop off and burn you).  Add pureed soup back into pan and add broccoli.  Taste and adjust spices if necessary.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What's for dinner? MMMM...falafel and gyros

Funny, growing up I hated falafel.  Couldn't stand it.  And yet, for some odd reason, when I came across a recipe for it a number of years ago, I was drawn to try it.  And I love it!  I don't get around to making it nearly often enough, what with making pita bread for it, but I tackled it this week.  I made a huge batch of pita bread the other day, so we had gyros the first night, then pita wedges with hummus for lunch the next, and falafel last night.

from Family Fun magazine, February 2007

1 c. dried chickpeas
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. fresh curly parsley, stems removed, tightly packed
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. corriander
1/2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Pinch of cayenne
Vegetable oil for frying

6-ounce container of plain yogurt (*to make it DF, I use So Delicious plain coconut yogurt)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh curly parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Rinse the chickpeas, then soak them in a medium-size bowl in several inches of water overnight in the refrigerator. (we've found the patties won't hold together as well if you use canned chickpeas.)

To make the sauce, whisk together the yogurt and water in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Makes 1 cup.

Drain the soaked chickpeas and place them in a food processor. Add all the remaining ingredients and blend, scraping the sides if necessary, until the mixture is creamy, about 1 minute total.

Heat an inch of oil in a large, heavy frying pan to 375 degrees (a spoonful of the mixture should sizzle as soon as it's immersed). Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of the falafel mixture and gently place it in the heated oil. Place 4 or 5 more spoonfuls in the pan. Fry the patties until they're thoroughly brown on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes, then flip them to brown the other side.

Drain the patties on a plate covered with a paper towel and sprinkle with additional salt, if desired. Serve with yogurt dipping sauce. Makes 16 to 20 patties.

Lamb Gyros
 from's recipe

1 lb. lean ground lamb
1 large tomato, cut in half, then thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 whole pita breads, cut in half, warmed

Seasonings for Lamb:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsps. dried oregano leaves, crushed
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:
1 8-oz. carton plain low-fat yogurt (to make DF, I used So Delicious plain coconut yogurt)
1/3 cup seeded, chopped cucumber
2 Tbsps. finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. granulated sugar

mix ingredients in a medium bowl

Prepare Cucumber Yogurt Sauce; cover and refrigerate.

In large bowl, combine lamb seasoning ingredients; mix 2 minutes or until very well-blended. Shape into two oval 1/2 inch thick patties. Place patties on rack in broiler pan so meat is 3-4 inches from heat. Broil 8-10 minutes or until no longer pink and juices run clear, turning once.Carve patties into thin slices. Place equal amounts of lamb, tomato and onion in each pita half; serve with cucumber Yogurt Sauce.
Makes 4 servings (2 filled pita halves and 1/4 cup sauce)

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    A birthday!

    Last week was my son's 9th birthday, so I've been busy baking.  I made a big batch of snickerdoodle cookies for him to bring to class on his birthday.  Then we had his party this weekend.  His choice venue for his party is our local climbing wall.  This year his grandparents, an aunt and two friends joined us but, due to the location, I decided to forgo the cake & ice cream until we got home.  Since we were there during mid-day, I brought an assortment of snacks, including a batch of oreo cookies, which the kids inhaled.

    Once home we enjoyed cake & ice cream which were also a hit. The cake turned out denser than I had planned - more like a pound cake, which may have been due to doubling the recipe.  The taste was still delicious and I can't wait to make it again for strawberry shortcake once strawberries are in season again. 

    This is a yellow cake with a vanilla "buttercream" frosting, sprinkled with crushed oreos and decorated with a soccer set I'd gotten years ago.

    Quick Gold Cake
    adapted by Raechel Medina from an original recipe in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham

    2 c. Featherlight flour mix
    1/4 c. tapioca starch
    3 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. salt
    1 1/4 c. sugar
    1 tsp. xanthan gum
    1/2 c. canola oil
    1 c. hemp milk or water
    2 eggs
    2 tsp. vanilla

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour two 8-inch round cake pans.  Mix the flour, starch, baking powder, salt, sugar and xanthan gum in a bowl.  Stir in the oil and milk/water, and beat for 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for another 2 minutes.  Pour into the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto racks.
    *I doubled this recipe to make the above sheet cake and baked it in a deep 9x13-inch cake pan for about 70 minutes.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    A new year!

    So, I'm a little behind.  I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and are settling into a happy, healthy new year.  I know I am.
    This year I'm finally going to stick with my resolution to get healthier, which has started by taking a 20 minute bike ride every day.  I was able to pick up an old exercise bike off of our local "freecycle"-type site a couple of months ago, so am finally putting it to use.  So far, so good - I've only skipped one day this month and that was because I was crazy busy getting ready for a dinner get together I hosted the other night.  I just can't wait until spring comes, so I can start hiking and riding my real bike.
    The dinner party I hosted on Wednesday was a lot of fun. A friend who moved away a few years ago was in town, so we wanted to have a get together so folks could visit with her.  I offered to host and then realized I didn't have a clue what to make.  I needed something that wouldn't be too time intensive, would fit a wide variety of tastes and food issues and could be kept warm for a few hours as folks came and went.  Hmmm.  I finally settled on making two pots of soup - ablondigas (meatball) and hearty potato & mushroom.  I also made rolls, loaves of bread, no-bake cookies and a rhubarb torte.  A friend brought a big pot of calico beans and a batch of cornbread muffins.  Yum!  Delicious food and great company - a great combination.
    I'll have to catch up later with adding pictures and more recipes, but here's the Hearty Potato and Mushroom Soup.  I found this recipe on Poor Girl Eats Well and it quickly became one of my favorites.

    Hearty Mushroom & Potato Soup
    2 c finely chopped carrots, celery and yellow onions, divided
    1 8 oz. package white mushrooms
    1 medium Russet potato, diced into ½” cubes
    2 medium red potatoes, diced into ½” cubes (you may also use 4 red potatoes or 2 medium Russets if that’s all you have)
    1 14 oz. can of chicken or vegetable broth
    1 c milk (*I use cashew or hemp milk or just up the amount of broth to make it dairy-free  ~rm)
    1 T olive oil
    2 garlic, minced
    ½ t salt
    ½ t ground black pepper
    ¼ t thyme
    ¼ t tarragon
    1 T olive oil
    Salt & pepper to taste (for the finished product)
    ½ c fresh spinach, chopped (for garnish)

    Divide the package of mushrooms in half. Finely chop one half of the mushrooms and slice the other half into 1/4“ thick pieces. Set the mushrooms slices aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add one cup of chopped veggies and the chopped mushrooms, and cook over medium heat until the vegetables have begun to soften. Add the broth and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat, add the cup of milk and puree in a blender until smooth (you may also use a hand blender if that’s all you have, like me). Set aside. Remember to use caution when pureeing hot liquids.

    In a large pot heat the olive oil and the garlic over medium high heat until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add the diced potatoes, salt, pepper and herbs, and cook until the potatoes just begin to brown. Reduce heat and add the remaining cup of chopped veggies. Cook for 3 minutes and add the thick mushroom broth. Simmer over medium low heat for about 5-7 minutes. Finally, add the mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the mushrooms begin to soften.

    Spoon generous amounts of the soup into large bowls. Add some chopped spinach and plenty of freshly ground black pepper on top, serve with thick slices of warm, crusty bread if you like, and enjoy!