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Pumpkin Spice Season: Pumpkin Spice Cookies (GF/V/A)

Pumpkin

Ford started High School this morning. Talk about making one feel old. It is really hard to wrap it around that he is in the 10th grade. And worse, is going to turn 16 in a few weeks. I spent Monday baking cookies, freezing up for his lunches. And realized something. It has been a long time since I used wheat flour. I still have a container on the counter, with maybe a pound in it. At this point, I am sure it is pretty stale. I gave away all my bags of flour to our neighbor this summer. If I can’t do it gluten-free/allergy-friendly, then it won’t be made.

I was very happy with the results of this tinkering. It is a soft cookie, more cake-like, than cookie. The boys loved them, especially Alistaire. Will Ford like them? Who knows. He gets all weird about pumpkin. Not sure why!

Pumpkinspicecookies1

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • ½ cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1½ cups pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup olive or grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir the brown rice flour through nutmeg together, sift through a fine mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl.

Whisk the pumpkin, oil and vanilla together, add to dry ingredients. Stir until mixed.

Use a 1 Tablespoon Disher to scoop and drop balls onto prepared baking sheets, 12 per tray.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until set on top. Let cool before moving to a rack.

Store tightly covered, freeze for longer term storage.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Sig

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Pumpkin Spice Season: Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Pumpkin

Starbucks really jumped the season this year – Pumpkin Spice syrup in August? Guess they figured if Costco has Christmas up on August 1st, they can push their seasons as well. I loved the “secret” get-it-early push. Oh please. Come on, give me to at least the 1st. I wanna pretend it is sweater weather….I was trying on sweaters yesterday and sweating to death in the tiny changing room.

Truthfully, I could have pumpkin treats year round. But…SB’s PSL isn’t something I can drink every day. It is worse than drinking a caramel latte made with the sauce. Not exactly lightweight in calories, fat or sugar content. A grande, made with whole milk and whip cream? Over 400 calories, nearly 50 grams sugar, and ouch…I gotta not look at nutritional stats. I had a free one yesterday, and after a third of my drink I tossed it. It was way too sweet. I couldn’t taste the coffee at all. It was just numbing sugar. And more so, isn’t vegan – even with soy milk, if you care. We can do better!

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Fall is coming, so let’s celebrate with 5 Days of Recipes, all featuring the heavenly aromas of Pumpkin Spice! And up first? Pumpkin Spice Syrup and Pumpkin Spice Lattes (ooh, bonus day – you get two recipes!)

pumpkinspicesyrup

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups organic sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (about 4″ long each)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ cup pumpkin purée

Directions:

Add the water, sugar and cinnamon sticks to a tall saucepan. Heat over medium, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Add in remaining spices and pumpkin, stir in. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring often, do not let boil.

Let cool for 30 minutes, then strain through a Jelly Strainer Bags. Transfer to a glass storage container, seal and refrigerate. A tall olive oil bottle with pour spout works great.

Note:

Don’t press hard on the jelly bag, or too much solids will pass through. I rest my bag in a fine mesh strainer, over a bowl. Discard the pulp and cinnamon sticks left in bag.

Pumpkinspicelatte

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 Tbsp pumpkin spice syrup
  • Milk, of choice
  • 2 shots espresso
  • Whip cream, if desired
  • Pumpkin spice blend, for topping

Directions:

For a grande latte, steam about 1½ cups milk to desired temperature. I go for about 150° to 160° personally.

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Pour syrup into mug, add in about half the milk, while pouring shots:

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Add in shots, down the center of mug, top with remaining milk. Decorate top as desired.

Notes:

When using non-dairy milks, use unsweetened and organic for best results. Almond often steams easiest, with little carry-over taste. I find that soy fries on the steaming wand, so have a wet rag ready when you take the wand out of the pitcher.  Rice tends to be watery, coconut is delicious, but has a very pronounced flavor when warm. As always, if you drink dairy, whole tastes best.

Brev

I realize of course that not every one has an espresso machine on hand. I was a barista in my 20’s for 9 years. This is the machine we run on: Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine. No, it isn’t cheap. It runs beautifully – and is pretty user-friendly (also easy for the non-barista to master).

So…the other thing is yes, you can warm milk in a saucepan and use double strength brewed coffee – but that isn’t a true latte. Please, consider an espresso machine if you love lattes. Find a barista who is nice, and ask them to teach you the basics. I did this for many customers. Once you learn how…next thing you know, you’ll have a showcase machine and all the tools to go with it 😉 And a tip jar on your counter! Your machine will pay for itself quickly if you are a daily drinker!

See you tomorrow and have a wonderful Labor Day!

Sig

Dem Wedges from Cooking Comically

If you like your cookbooks a little saucy (with a cuss word or two), check the new upcoming release from Tyler Capps: Cooking Comically: Recipes So Easy You’ll Actually Make Them.

CookingComically

Tyler writes/draws at Cooking Comically. The recipes are easy, hilarious and fun to read.

DemWedges

And check out his website for this recipe in all its glory, with the comics and whatnot! You will love it! OK, I loved it.

DemWedges2

I adapted the recipe a wee bit, doubling everything, since we have 5 hungry mouths to feed 😉 I cut the salt back and left out the called for onion powder…as…oops, I am out. No loss though, these potato wedges were some of the best I have ever had. creamy inside, golden tasty on the outside. I am thinking some Old Bay seasoning would be phenomenal as well. Oh, and make a big batch! The leftovers go great into breakfast burritos, just sayin’…..

Dem Wedges

Ingredients:

  • 3’ish pounds red potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Wash and dry the potatoes, cut into thin wedges, place in a large bowl.

Toss with the oil (hands work best), sprinkle on seasonings, toss again to coat.

Spread into an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 55 minutes, top rack.

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy.

Gingerbread Cake Drizzled with Lemon Sauce

It was a birthday in the house this week, and yes, I know that gingerbread screams of fall. Yet, that someone with a birthday loves a spice cake.
Gingerbread

An adapted recipe from the recently released Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking: Includes 250 Delicious Recipes, from Robert Rose. I was reading through the cookbook, looking for inspiration and happened to see the gingerbread. I liked that it wasn’t a frosted cake – and was only one layer.

Easyeverydaygluten

An interesting full-range gluten-free cookbook which kind of brought up something for me, that happened last weekend. I had heard a lot of good about Haley’s Corner Bakery, a few miles from where we live. It is a gluten-free bakery. I was hoping I’d find something for Alistaire, even if it was just a loaf of bread. Well…maybe I needed that sharp dose of reality – that I probably won’t be able to walk into a restaurant or bakery ever for him, for a treat. A lot of gluten-free recipes are bound with eggs. And I don’t blame them! The recipes with eggs work better most times. If one wants to bake vegan and gluten-free, you have a real learning curve. (It didn’t help either that the items with nuts were parked next to the nut free ones. Pretty cookies. Ah well!)

So, as I flipped through the cookbook…I got thinking about what we and the baby would all equally like, minus the eggs. I like when my mind has to tinker.

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I adapted the recipe I chose to be not only gluten-free, but vegan, so that Alistaire could enjoy it as well. I was trying to decide between Ener-g Egg Replacer or flaxseed meal, and after talking it over on Facebook, I realized Ener-g would make for a lighter cake.

Two little boys fighting over who was getting bites. Alistaire was miffed that Walker was jumping in his way 😉 I was quite happy with my adaptation. The cake was moist, mildly spicy and rich with molasses.

Gingercake5

Gingerbread Cake (Adapted from page 272)

Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°, lightly oil an 8×8″ glass baking pan.

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over shortening. Set aside to melt and cool slightly.

Beat Ener-G Egg Replacer with warm water, set aside to thicken.

In a mixing bowl, sift together bean flour, sorghum flour, tapioca, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Resift and set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat Ener-g mixture, molasses and sugar. Add shortening mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients. Mix until just blended. Pour into prepared pan.

Let stand for 30 minutes before baking.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Flip over onto a plate, then onto another plate, to serve.

Serve with warm lemon sauce.

Gingercake2

Lotsa Lemon Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2 small/1 large lemon)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter or Earth Balance Buttery stick

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add water, lemon zest , lemon juice and butter. Heat over medium for 5 to 8 minutes, or until it boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Serve warm preferably.

Makes about 1½ cups.

Gingercake3

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received a review copy of the book.

Smart Balance Gluten-Free Mac n’ Cheese

Our diet continues to evolve, as we find what works best for us. It was suggested to me by my doctor at my last appointment, that I should be consuming more fish, for the oils, so of late, we have included oil packed tuna and wild salmon once or twice a week into our dinners . Add in that Alistaire loves fish (and is something he can eat) I am more than happy to let him have it. Ford was pestering me for mac and cheese of late, and hey, I’d rather he eats one I made over a *gasp* box, at least it can be gluten-free, high in protein and made with clean cheese, not something dyed orange.

I adapted the recipe so baby could enjoy it as well (since cheese is something that of his allergies is the mildest – and he really loves it). A hearty dinner and outside of Walker throwing peas at me, a success. And as a bonus, I got to try out a new product I hadn’t had before, although I have used their products many times –

FT C Disclaimer: “I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Smart Balance. I received product samples, and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

Smart Balance and Earth Balance are re-doing their look and many of their spreads are coming now in square, and not circle tubs. It not only saves space, but uses up to 18% less greenhouse emissions – and is the same 15 ounce size, and the same great products.

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All 13 varieties of Smart Balance Buttery Spreads and 5 of Earth Balance spreads are in the new packaging! If you are like me, round tubs do not fit in your refrigerator “butter” cubby/door, so I love square and rectangle tubs. I can actually shut the darn door and not have it falling out.

Smartbalance

A little Smart Balance Butter & Canola Spread on a Schär Ciabatta Roll (love these par-baked rolls!). The kids went crazy over it, and that the spread has fish oil in it? Well, I can take that as a bonus. It is buttery and quite tasty on bread! And no one noticed – so why should I tell them?

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Dinner served – 3 happy kids fed! The buttery spread works perfectly in sauces.

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Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese with Tuna and Peas

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces brown rice pasta
  • 8 ounces frozen green peas, preferably unsalted
  • 2 5-ounce cans tuna in olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp Smart Balance spread
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch (or tapioca starch)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp mustard, preferably a spicy deli style
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup sour cream, no thickeners (read label)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cook as directed on package. Add peas to colander, pour pasta water over slowly to thaw, shake peas and pasta off.

Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan over medium. Melt spread, whisk in flour, salt and pepper, then milk and mustard. Bring to a boil, whisking often, until thickened. Take off heat, stir in sour cream and cheese till smooth.

Drain tuna, flake and stir into sauce. Fold sauce into hot pasta.

Serves 4.

~Sarah

The Fresh 20 Subscription

Eek!

School is starting next week for my oldest. He is going to a sophomore, and his first year in high school! Last week was his orientation, and it felt so weird to drop him off, alone. Parents were not allowed in for it. I tried to remember how it had been for me, when I was in the 9th grade. He was really excited though. The only downside is the high school is outside of town, more than a few miles away. Someone had best not miss the big yellow bus if he knows what is good for him 😉

I have spent the last week starting to fill the freezer with lunch and snack ideas for him, so he can grab and go. Because…um, yeah, I don’t like having to act at 6 something in the morning. It is hard to make sure he is eating as good as he can. The Fresh 20 has inspired me to do more for him – especially if he has leftovers from dinner, for breakfast. And you ask..just what is The Fresh 20?

thefresh20

I have used the The Fresh 20 Subscription and loving it. I am not usually a planner, I kind of go by the flow, which I know costs us a lot more. Since that leads to someone going shopping every 2-3 days. And I always end up buying more than I went in for. I have used both the classic and vegetarian plans (the gluten-free is also great!). And while I don’t use it every day, it has given me so much inspiration. Maybe it is just August, but I have weeks where I need all the help I can find to get dinner on the table. And to spend less! Tofu Crumble over Peppered Noodles with Peas and Carrots? Oh yes! One Pot Veggie Spaghetti, where the pasta cooks in the sauce? You will be inspired to try new things! And you can easily convert most of the vegetarian recipes to gluten-free as well. And hey, you never know…someday I might be so busy that prepping on Sunday would free up my life!

Oh and they have a six-week lunch plan, I might have to check it out as well, as I make lunch most days for Kirk and I, and the two youngest.

The Fresh 20 Subscription:

Subscribing to The Fresh 20 makes it easy to organize your weeknight meals.  Every week you shop for 20 fresh seasonal ingredients with The Fresh 20 shopping list.  Then, using the step-by-step prep guide, it takes one hour to prep the entire week’s meals—saving you valuable time during busy weeknights. On dinner night, each complete meal takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and features simple recipes the whole family can create together.  Choose from their three meal plans: Classic, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free.  At 16 cents a day, what do you have to lose?

And ooh, check out:

getfresh_banner

#getfresh campaign

The Fresh 20 supports healthy eating habits as kids head back to school this year.  They’re on a mission to find The Freshest Kids in America by asking kids the question, “How do you #getfresh?” Utilizing any social platform, parents can submit either a video or a photo of how their children #getfresh on health.  The campaign offers children and their parents a unique opportunity to get creative with their fresh and healthy habits and to get kids involved in their own health decisions. Check out their site for #getfresh back to school ideas.

www.thefresh20.com/getfresh

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: Sponsored post.

Book Review: Homemade Snacks and Staples

Homemadesnacks

Homemade Snacks & Staples (Living Free Guides) is a new cookbook that feels just like me. As the authoress, Kimberly Aime, puts it “I grew up in the 1980’s, when processed foods were the norm and quicker was always better.” How she came to eating a clean diet parallels mine. You have to find out why it is good for you, before you accept the life change. While her book has a few meat and fish recipes, overall the book is vegetarian friendly. And the book does deliver – every staple item you could want/need for your pantry and refrigerator, along with small bites, snacks and even meals. This is a keeper of a cookbook, and a great gift for anyone who is learning to cook!

So, in all that I passed over the sunflower butter (I will be making it once I can source peanut and nut-free sunflower seeds!) and many other tasty items…and enjoyed one of my rare fish meals, which I enjoyed quite a bit. It was crunchy, moist and the artichokes/water chestnuts? Wow, why hadn’t I thought of that before? Way better than say celery…..

ManateeTunaSalad

Manatee’s Tuna Salad (Page 125)

Ingredients:

  • 1 12-ounce can tuna packed in water, drained (used 2 7-ounce cans Albacore)
  • ¼ cup white onion, diced
  • ½ cup water chestnuts, chopped*
  • ¼ cup artichoke hearts, drained and diced (used canned ones)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise (regular, preferably organic, or egg-free for allergies)

Directions:

Flake the tun into a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Season to taste with ground black pepper, if desired.

*OK, I used an entire can of water chestnuts. I drained and rinsed, then drained again (it really cleans up the flavor). Try to find a brand with only water chestnuts and water and no additives.

We served the tuna salad over a bed of romaine hearts, thinly sliced. Each plate had one hearts worth.

Serves 3.

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received a copy for potential review.

Book Review: The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook

Allergycomfortfoods

I have really enjoyed Elizabeth Gordon’s cookbooks, as I explore more possibilities for cooking gluten-free/vegan/allergy-friendly. Her 2012 cookbook, The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook: Every Recipe Is Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nuts, and Eggs, is a great read, especially if you have anyone in your household with severe food allergies. The wide range of types of recipes will inspire you to think a bit differently, even if you don’t need to be careful with your ingredients.

After going through the book, I ended up coming back to a simple dish of rice and beans. I loved the warmth of the beans and the brightness of the rice. Try it rolled up in fresh corn tortillas! Which leads me to something: I always hated corn tortillas. Dry, bland and crumbly. Then I had raw ones that you cook quickly in a hot pan. The difference is amazing. I am hooked. There is no comparison! I had fresh tortillas like 3 times in the past 2 days…that good!

Yellowriceblackbeans

Black Beans and Yellow Rice (as adapted from page 121)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp (or more ) fresh lime juice
  • fresh cilantro leaves, minced

Directions:

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add oil, onion and garlic, sauté until they have softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add rice, broth and turmeric and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover tightly and let cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine beans, cumin and cayenne pepper in a small saucepan, heat over low heat until just heated through. Stir in lime juice (I used a Tablespoon juice).

Fluff the rice, serve topped with beans, and a pinch of cilantro.

Notes:

The recipe called for ½ tsp salt added to the rice. My broth had around 500 mg sodium per cup. I didn’t feel it needed any extra salt, so left it out. Your taste may vary of course!

We topped the rice and beans with sautéed vegetables (not pictured) – a green and a red bell pepper and a large sweet onion.

~Sarah

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