Accepting the challenges in creating a gluten free household

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I have had very little trouble making gluten-free muffins that tasted yummy.  At least when they were fresh.  Within a day or two, though, they were obviously ‘old’. Frustrating.

I have experimented a lot with Paleo recipes (grain-free) and was delighted to find a new Chocolate Chip Banana muffin recipe that not only tastes good fresh, but actually improves after it cools down overnight.  I do keep them in the fridge or freeze them if they won’t be eaten for several days.

My 3-year old grandson wanted to make Chocolate Chip muffins with me the other day.  We first made Orange Cranberry Muffins, which he enjoyed, but still insisted we needed Chocolate Chip Muffins.  So we made them.  And he ate.  Several.  He’s a little guy, so 2-3 muffins is a big deal! We did share, but I think he got a lot more than 1/2.  Today I had 3 grandchildren here, and so 3 more disappeared as their pre-naptime snack.

Because I have changed the recipe to suit us, I will give you my version as well as the link to the original version.  Enjoy.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

3 medium very brown bananas
3 egg yolks
3 TBS melted butter or olive oil
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp gf vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 cups of almond flour
2 TBS of coconut flour
2 tsp of cinnamon

3 egg whites
1 – 1 ½ cups chocolate chips (or blueberries)

Link: http://www.mygutsy.com/gaps-banana-blueberry-bread/

I have tried to follow healthier baking (& eating) principles this year, but holiday baking is something I can’t give up.  However, it is not what it used to be (pre-gluten-free days). So I cheat sometimes with regular sugar in some snacks.  Besides, what is ‘healthy eating’ to one person, is still far from it to another… There are many ideas of what constitutes healthy eating.  

Anyway, I was pleased when my daughter told me that she loved all my baking this year, but her favorite was the white chocolate, peppermint cookies.  “You can’t even tell they are gluten-free,” was her comment.  They were the perfect chewy Christmas treat.  The recipe is here:

http://www.thebakingbeauties.com/2012/12/gluten-free-white-chocolate-and-peppermint-cookies.html

Check out Jeanine’s other baked goods… I’ve always had good results with her recipes.

Bread

Harvest Sun Bread – one of my favorites of 2013:

The ingredients are here. For the method, please visit the website.
Harvest Sun Bread (Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free/Soy-Free/ Corn-Free)

1 ½ cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup millet flour
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum (I use Authentic Foods for a corn-free variety)
1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
1/3 cup leftover cooked gluten-free oatmeal (made from gluten-free certified oats)
2 tablespoons molasses
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup warm milk or milk substitute

The photo is mine.

Autumn

Colors. I know this is a food blog, and I have a lot of catching up to do… I’m on a journey, and it seems there are many side-trips on the way, so I’m not always sure what to blog about (in order not to contradict myself terribly…) I do want to get back, and have you share that journey with me. My kitchen will always be gluten free because of my husband’s Celiac, but sometimes it’s Paleo, sometimes it’s just plain Real Food! And sometimes we indulge in treats that aren’t all that healthy at all…

Pinned

Years ago I joined Facebook. It was a way to connect with family members, and friends past and present. Since we’ve moved a few times in our lives, those connections meant a lot to me. However, one of my daughters refused to join Facebook, so it took a bit of effort on my part to remember to post photos where she could also access them. She did reluctantly join Facebook recently when she discovered that a group she was a part of, posted everything on Facebook, and without it, she was out of the loop.

Then I joined Pinterest… mostly out of curiosity. The more I used it, the more it made me think of this daughter of mine, and I mentioned it to her a few times, and finally showed her the interesting pins I was seeing. She joined. She’s hooked. Pinterest is nothing like Facebook, actually, except that you have to join something online. And you do choose your community. But unlike Facebook, Pinterest is actually useful. There are links to useful creative ideas such as organization, photography, and recipes to name a few. (Or rather, to name most of what I look at…) I’ve chosen boards that I want to see regularly because they are my friends. Or because they seem to like the same things I do. Or because they collect gluten free recipes…

I will often check Pinterest for inspiration on what to make for dinner. I couldn’t count the number of recipes I have tried from there. So maybe I need to pass on a few of my favorites to you. And even mention a few that weren’t so good… but I tried them.

So if you’re interested, read on…

Sloppy Joes: http://www.mommymoment.ca/2012/08/sloppy-joes-recipe.html
I have made Sloppy Joes for years, but this recipe jumped out at me just as I was thinking that I had too much ground beef in my freezer, and what would I do with all of it!!! As usual, I changed a few things… it doesn’t have to be kid-friendly at my house most of the time, so I added real onions and garlic rather than the powder. It was yummy. Next time I’ll try Jeanine’s gluten-free buns as well. They also look very good.
http://www.thebakingbeauties.com/2012/08/gluten-free-buns.html

Then there is the Best Recipe I Ever Messed Up! Truly! http://amy-newnostalgia.blogspot.ca/2010/05/best-recipe-ive-ever-messed-up.html
I cut it into 1 1/2 inch squares and took a piece with me to work every day while they lasted! Soooo very good!

I’ll post more of my pinned successes soon…

Double Chocolate Cookies

The original recipe for these cookies (from the lady who gave me the recipe) was Cow Pie Cookies.  Had to drop that name.  When she brought these ‘Cow Pie Cookies’ to work one day many, many years ago, I was afraid to try them.  The name may have been one issue.  The other was that my friend was NOT domestic.  Not at all!  I was a “Stay-at-h0me-mom-wannabe’.  She thought I was crazy.  But I had to be polite.  So I tried her cookies.  I’ve been making them ever since.  At least until we went GF.  Oh how I missed those cookies.

I took a long time to finally try to convert the recipe.  I didn’t want to make it too complicated, so I decided to try just substituting the flour with a commercial GF all-purpose flour from Bulk Barn.  It worked.  I did add a wee bit of xanthan gum according to the directions on the flour bag.  They were soooo yummy hot out of the oven. And they were still soooo yummy the next day when I took them to work to share with a friend.  We agreed that there was no way anyone could tell they were GF.  Here’s the recipe:

Double Chocolate Cookies – GF

A.
1 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

B.
2/3 cup cocoa
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda

C.
½ tsp xanthan gum
2 cups gluten free all purpose flour
2 cups chopped chocolate bars or chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine A ingredients.  Cream until fluffy.  Beat in B ingredients. Stir in C and mix well.  Using 1 Tbsp dough for each cookie, shape dough into balls.  Press down slightly.  Bake at 325 for 8-10 minutes.  Do not overbake.  (Smaller cookies may be done quicker.)

DO NOT OVERBAKE!

DO NOT OVERBAKE!

Seriously.  They can look a little wet in the cracks.  I think that’s the secret to making these cookies ‘to die for.’

Pesto and other things

I have been super busy with facebook, pinterest and reading blogs – ok… maybe I don’t have a good excuse for not blogging. I had in mind that this blog was for gluten free recipes that I was making, but if I have time to bake, I don’t seem to have time to blog. So this entry will be a mishmash of recipes that I have found and plan to make again…

The first one I want to share is pesto. I made a basil & pine nuts pesto a year ago, froze it in ice cube trays, and when I remembered I had it, and took one out for pasta, pizza, sandwiches, etc, I was always reminded how much I love pesto.

Today I had some kale in the fridge. I haven’t bought it before, but have seen how much everyone loves it on Pinterest. When I got it home, I realized the recipe I had planned on making was far too complicated for someone who might not even like kale. (Though I must say, I can’t think of a vegetable I don’t like…)

So I looked for something simpler. I came across a recipe for pesto made with kale. How intriguing! I had to try it. It was a winner. I did add all the basil I could find in my sad little garden. It wasn’t much – but I did get a bit of the basil flavor into the pesto.

http://pamelasalzman.com/kale-pesto-recipe/

We had another birthday celebration this week, and I was flip-flopping between chocolate and lemon for the dessert. Both are things I crave!! So I made both. We had these individual cheesecakes for the family party this week, and the chocolate bar is being saved for Sunday with my family. I will admit to sneaking a piece into my lunch each day as well. Both were very yummy, and very little work.

The lemon: http://www.easyeats.com/recipes/1203-lemon-cheesecake-cupcakes

The chocolate: http://amy-newnostalgia.blogspot.ca/2010/05/best-recipe-ive-ever-messed-up.html

OK. I know. Bestest isn’t a word. But I wanted your attention! And I got it, didn’t I?

If you don’t live in or near Winnipeg, Manitoba, I’m sorry. This post is not for you. But if you live near here, I have the greatest news ever. I had the best bread I’ve had since going gluten free this week. We took sandwiches to work. We NEVER do that normally! We finished the loaf. We never do that either.

We had hot dogs tonight, and I would like you to know that you haven’t had hot dog buns as good as these gluten free ones I bought last Friday.

I know you want to know where to find this awesome baking. I went to Meyers Drug Store where CocoaBeans Bakery delivers every Friday. Cocoabeans has a website: http://www.cocoabeansbakeshop.com/index2.php#/home/

Maybe one day she’ll have her own storefront and/or cafe. If she does, I’ll be happy to send customers her way. I’ll warn you. Her bread and buns are not cheap. But no gluten free baking is cheap. And if you’re like me, some of what you’ve paid for in the past has ended up in the trash – because a lot of GF baking belongs in the trash. So splurge. Buy a great-tasting gf bread with quality ingredients. But let me get there first on Friday… I need my loaf, too.

Disclaimer: I do not know the baker at Cocoabeans, though I hope to meet her one day. She is not paying me to say any of this!!

Sometimes it works to substitute flours found in regular recipes.  Sometimes it’s just better to go flourless.  My daughter loves to make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies for her dad when making a meal for us.  They’re yummy!  I think the ingredients are peanut butter, eggs, chocolate chips and sugar.  Another short list… you know I like short lists!!

But this week I craved chocolate (I say that as if it is something new… it is not!)  This recipe called to me.  It did NOT disappoint.

Short list of ingredients (6)… Crispy-chewy, soooooo good!!  You put them away in an airtight container to get them out of sight!!  The only thing I will do different next time is use a smaller scoop to make smaller cookies (and bake a shorter period of time.)  Watch them carefully – 14 minutes may be too long even for the larger cookies.  They spread very thin, and the larger cookies were more difficult to peel off the parchment without breaking.  Of course that meant more cookies for me to eat…

Here is the link to this recipe: http://www.recipegirl.com/2007/11/24/chewy-gooey-flourless-chocolate-cookies/

It is Easter weekend.  We were invited to bring Paska (Ukranian Easter Bread) or Hot Cross Buns for a coffee time after church tomorrow.  I tried a GF Paska recipe last week, and though it smelled delicious (even tasted good according to my hubby) – it looked awful.  It fell as it cooled, so the inside was rather gooey-looking.

I also had a Hot Cross Buns recipe to try, so this morning I made them, and put them confidently into the oven.  So far, so good.  But I didn’t watch them carefully enough and they got too brown.  Which made them very thick-crusted.  The insides looked wonderful.  That was enough encouragement to try again.  I knew exactly what I’d done wrong.  I tried again.  Success!!  Here’s the Hot Cross Bun recipe I used, the way I made them.  The recipe is based on one by Rebecca Reilly, author of  Gluten Free Baking.  I love the flour blend.  The original recipe is here: http://www.livingwithout.com/recipes/gluten_free_hot_cross_buns-2000-1.html

1 cup bean flour
2/3 cup tapioca starch
2/3 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup arrowroot starch
⅓ cup sugar
2 tablespoons rapid-rise yeast
½ cup skim milk powder
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup warm water
¼ cup light olive oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup raisins
Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl.  Add grated lemon zest.

In a smaller bowl, mix water, oil, eggs and vinegar, add to dry ingredients and beat for 5 minutes.  Mix in raisins.

Using an ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out dough and place on cookie sheet with a bit of space between each bun.  Brush the buns with melted butter and cut an X into the top of each bun. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 20 to 30 minutes.

Place buns in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When the buns are cool, drizzle icing over the scored X.   Makes 15 buns.

Icing:
1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Whisk powdered sugar, milk and vanilla together until smooth. Add more milk if icing is too thick.