Rockin’ Rolls: Gluten Free Garlic-Herb Rolls

“Try, try again….”

One of the hardest adjustments to having to be gluten free was the many disappointing gluten free roll recipes which did not live up to expectations. One of my daughters, though, was persistent, and many, many adjustsment later, we finally have a recipe which which has worked time and time again. So, I’m sharing it here with you for you to try.

Gluten Free Herbed Garlic Rolls

Ingredients:

2 tbsp white vinegar plus dairy free milk to equal 2 1/2 cups (We use soy or flax milk.)

1 1/2 cup liquid egg whites, at room temperature

6 tbsp safflower oil

1/2 cup gluten free flour (We like to use oat flour.)

2 tsp garlic powder

6 cups gluten free flour blend (We have been using the King Arthur’s whole grain blend.)

2 tbsp xanthan gum (This is in addition to what is in the flour blend.)

1 tbsp dried chopped chives

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar

9 tsp active dry yeast

melted vegan butter

Baking Instructions: (If your mixer can’t accommodate the 6 cups of flour plus additional ingredients, you will want to cut the ingredients in half and make two batches.)

  1. Line two cookie sheets which can fit twelve rolls each with parchment paper and sprinkle cornmeal on the parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large measuring cup, pour 2 tbsp vinegar and add enough “milk” that you have 2 1/2 cups of liquid. Mix well, and set aside to thicken.
  3. In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Then add the oil, and rewhisk until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Mix together – in a bowl large enough to roll dough balls in – the 1/2 cup flour and garlic powder, and set aside.
  5. In large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, xanthan gum, chives, thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then add the yeast.
  6. Add the vinegar milk and egg whites with oil to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until all ingredients are combined.
  7. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat about 5 minutes. The batter should be smooth and shiny. (If the mixture is not smooth and shiny because it is too stiff and dry, add a tbsp of “milk” and remix. You may need to add a couple of additional tbsps of “milk”, depending on the flour blend you use. With the King Arthur, the 2 1/2 cup has always been just right.)
  8. Flour your hands, and roll 1/4 cup size dough balls in the prepared garlic-flour, shake off any excess flour, and place the rolls on the prepared cookie sheets.
  9. Once all the rolls have been floured and place on the pans, lightly bruth the tops of the rolls with melted butter. You can leave the rolls roundly topped, or as in the second picture, cut gently into the top with a knife to form a crease.
  10. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for 45 minutes. (A trick for the winter is to turn on the light in your oven while you’re preparing the rolls and put the pans into the oven to rise. The warmth from the light will help the rolls to rise better. If you don’t have an oven light, another trick which my mother-in-law taught me is that you can also preheat your oven to the lowest setting – mine is 170 degrees – then turn off the oven and let it cool while you are preparing the rolls. This should allow the temperature in the oven to go down to the 70-80 degrees which is ideal for rising dough.)
  11. After the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  12. Place the two pans side by side in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the rolls have risen, are golden, and sound hollow when you tap them. If you are a temperature-taker, the internal temperature of the rolls should be 200 degrees.
  13. Remove the rolls from the oven and put them onto a cooling rack to cool. They can be stored in a tupperware on the counter and rewarmed in the oven or in the microwave.

 

 

 

Holiday Happenings: New Year’s Log

“I want something special….”

Right before the holidays I heard a true story about a mom who got so upset about her young children’s whining that she cancelled Christmas for them. No presents. No special dinner. No celebration. Not just for that year but apparently for the next few years.

I was appalled. I can empathize with the mom’s frustration about the whining, but being whiny is a growth area which even many adults need to work on, and which requires training, patience, and modeling, not retaliation. What really struck at my heart, though, was her presumption that the holiday was a “right” which she could just take away as a punishment.

For me the holiday season as a whole (Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s) is a gift. We don’t like to admit it, but as individuals, we can be selfish. Celebrating holidays – whether it’s this time of the year, summer vacations, Halloween or someone else’s birthday – is a gift to a selfish race. We don’t earn it. We’re just given these opportunities to practice being with one another, to extend love to one another, to think beyond ourselves about others.

So, when one of my daughters said she wanted to make a yule log for New Year’s eve tonight, I welcomed it as an opportunity for us to spend time together doing something she had requested.

Since folks know I usually like things to be quick and easy, spending an afternoon cooking something with many steps to it is not usually my heart’s desire. In this case, though, it meant time with my daughter, as well as an opportunity to exercise creativity.

For folks who think a yule log is difficult, I can assure you, it actually is not. It’s really simple to make. It just requires time, and with our gluten and dairy allergies it also required a few substitutions. In the end, though, the time was well spent, and my daughter and I enjoyed creating something special together to celebrate the end of this year and the beginning of the next.

Our hope is that you will look forward to making it and enjoying it in the new year, too. Happy New Year!

Raspberry Chocolate Yule Log

Ingredients:

Sponge Cake Batter:

3/4 cup gluten free flour blend of choice, sifted* (I used King Arthur’s whole grain blend)

1/4 cup Hershey’s unsweetened special dark cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

6 eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp plant based oil (I used safflower oil)

1/4 cup sweetener (I used the Truvia/sugar blend)

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup sweetener (I used the Truvia/sugar blend)

“Cream” Filling:

1/4 cup coconut cream (from the top of a can of coconut milk)

1 1/2 cups dairy free chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand)

8 oz dairy free cream cheese (I used the Tofutti brand)

1/2 cup Polaner Raspberry All Fruit

Log Frosting:

favorite homemade chocolate frosting or ready-made dairy free frosting (I used Simple Mills dairy free brand)

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease a 12 x 17 inch shallow, sided cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. Then grease the parchment paper with vegan butter.
  2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk the six egg yolks until they are a light, yellow color. Add the vanilla, oil, and sweetener and blend well. Use a large bowl because you’ll be adding the dry ingredients plus the egg whites.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolks mixture and blend well.
  5. In a mixer, add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and begin to mix on low. Slowly add the sweetener while it is mixing. Then increase the speed and continue to mix the egg whites until they become snowy white and stiff (when you pull up the whisk, the egg whites will form triangles.)
  6. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter, slowly and deliberately. You add small amounts of the egg white and using a scooped spatula, hug the curve of the bowl to scoop batter up and over into the center of the egg whites, over and over again until all the egg whites are incorporated into the batter. The batter will lighten in color and expand.
  7. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and baked in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. When done, the sponge cake will be puffed and firm to the touch.
  8. While the cake is in the oven, cut a piece of parchment paper which is larger than 12 x 17 inches. Sprinkle it with unsweetened cocoa powder.
  9. When the cake is done, immediately turn the cake over onto the prepared parchment paper and remove the parchment paper sticking to the cake from cooking in the oven. Sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder and carefully roll the cake into a circle. Put the cake into the fridge to cool. Will need at least an hour.
  10. While the cake is cooling, take the top cream from a can of coconut milk and put it into a microwaveable bowl with the chocolate chips. Microwave for one minute and then stir until all the chips are melted.
  11. In a mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and blend well.
  12. Add the Polaner raspberry, and mix until well incorporated. The consistency will be like a thick pudding. Set aside.
  13. When the cake is cooled, carefully unroll it and place it onto a serving platter. Spread the raspberry chocolate cream so that you leave an inch around the edges. Re-roll and place the log back into the fridge.
  14. Either make homemade chocolate frosting or whip up ready-made chocolate frosting.
  15. Frost the outside of the log with the frosting and use a fork to create “bark-like” lines.
  16. To decorate, squish marshmallows to look like mushroom caps and dip them into cocoa powder and place them, along with red hots into the chocolate frosting. To make snow, crumble coconut flakes with powder sugar and sprinkle on top.

* When “sifted” comes after the ingredient, it means to measure first.

Holiday Happenings: Chocolate Bread

 

“I want chocolate bread….”

Happy Holidays! The world may be topsy-turvy these days due to the pandemic, but some things never change. Pictures of tantalizing food make our mouths drool.

A co-worker posted on our Slack channel a picture of chocolate bread he had made using sourdough starter. It was gorgeous, and I immediately wanted it. Folks who have been reading my posts for a while, though, know that I am lazy so sourdough starter is not my cup of tea. You have to constantly “feed” the dough, and every week, you need to make bread, which I may or may not have the inclination to do. So, I wanted to come up with a quick bread which would satisfy my craving for a chocolate bread.

Folks who cook with chocolate already know that the biggest issue with making a chocolate bread or cookie is that they can be dry. And gluten free flours can also make breads dry. So, I had to think about the best way to keep the bread moist. Since I happened to have a bunch of ripe bananas handy, I opted to use those. I also used Hershey’s special dark unsweetened cocoa powder instead of the natural cocoa powder because it is less drying. And I opted to use a plant based oil, a dairy free milk, and eggs to add liquids to the recipe. To keep the sugar calories lower, I used dairy free mini chips so I could use less, and I opted for coconut sugar in place of white sugar. And because I didn’t want the bread to be gummy, which can happen with gluten free breads, I added some ground golden flaxseed.

The result was a delicious, moist chocolate bread which had the shape and ease of a bread but the fudginess of a chocolate cake. We have been enjoying the loaves this week with raspberry jam, tofu cream cheese, and on its own. Hope you enjoy it, too.

Chocolate Bread

(This recipe makes two loaves.)

Ingredients:

2 cups of gluten free flour, sifted* (I used King Arthur’s whole grain blend.)

1 cup Hershey’s special dark unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup ground golden flaxseed

4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup dairy free mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips.)

Six 6-inch medium ripe bananas (will puree)

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup sweetener (I used coconut sugar.)

1 cup plant based oil (I used avocado oil.)

1/2 cup dairy free milk (I used an unsweetened soy milk.)

2 eggs, beaten

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup dairy free mini chocolate chips (This is a second one cup of chips.)

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two 9 x 5 loaf pans with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips, and set the dry ingredients aside.
  3. Puree the bananas using a food processor or blender. (You don’t want to mash them because they are adding liquid, not texture.)
  4. To the bananas, add cinnamon, sweetener, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and blend until well incorporated.
  6. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans.
  7. Sprinkle the tops of the batter with the second cup of mini chocolate chips, evenly dividing them between the two loaves.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until the loaves are puffed, dry on top, firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine took 55 minutes.)
  9. Put the pans on a wire cooling rack and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Remove the loaves from the pan to the cooling rack and allow the breads to cool.

*When “sifted” comes after the ingredient, it means to measure first and then sift.

Creative Cooking: Cranberry Orange Chocolate Chip Bread

“I like repurposing….”

At Thanksgiving, my children wanted to know why I had made so much cranberry-orange relish and cranberry sauce. I explained that it was because I was planning ahead.

The fact is that I love to repurpose leftovers into other culinary delights. The leftover homemade cranberry sauce was used for one of my favorite recipes, cranberry cheesecake, and today, I decided to work on a new recipe to use up the cranberry-orange relish.

Folks who have been reading my posts for a while know that I like to make things healthier if at all possible, so I decided I wanted to create a bread which not only had the vitamins from the fresh cranberry and orange in the relish but fiber and protein from oats, probiotics from yogurt, and the omega-3’s from flaxseed. And of course, I wanted to minimize the amount of sugar used and also make it gluten and dairy free.

A tall order, but I went to work, and the recipe came out great on the first try. I made two loaves, and the children have already eaten their way through 3/4 of one! Good thing it’s “healthy”!

Cranberry-Orange-Chocolate Chip Bread

(This makes two loaves.)

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh cranberry-orange relish*

2/3 cup unsweetened dairy free milk (I used soy.)

1/2 cup plant based oil (I used safflower.)

Two 5.3 oz unsweetened plain dairy free yogurt (I used So Delicious.)

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cup gluten free whole rolled oats**

2 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend, sifted*** (I used King Arthur’s whole grain blend.)

1/2 cup sweetener (Options: coconut sugar, monk fruit sweetener, truvia, agave; I used a Truvia blend.)

2/3 cup ground flaxseed

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup dairy free mini chocolate chips (I used Endangered Species dark chocolate oatmilk mini buttons.)

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two 9 x 5 in loaf pans with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together the cranberry-orange relish, milk, oil, yogurt, and eggs. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor, process the oats until crumbly and fine, but not a powder. Add to the oats, the flour, sweetener, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk well.
  4. Add the chocolate chips to the dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend well.
  6. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans.
  7. Bake for 60-70 minutes until the loaves are puffed and golden and firm to the touch. (I recommend turning the loaves around halfway through the cooking time and putting a piece of parchment over the top of the loaves at the half way mark to prevent over browning. Mine took a full 70 minutes)
  8. Remove to a cooling rack when done. Allow the loaves to cook in the pans for 10-15 minutes. Then remove to the cooling racks and take off the parchment paper so the loaves can cool completely.
  9. Enjoy! (Because it is not overly sweet, we found it to be delicious toasted with vegan butter.)

*If you have not made any cranberry-orange relish before, you simply process a 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries with a peeled, large orange. You can then add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and/or cloves to taste, and one to two tablespoons of a sweetener if desired. I like it tart but some folks prefer it sweeter.

**If you don’t have whole oats but have oat flour, you can substitute, but use only one cup of the flour since it is finer. The bread will just lose the “nutty” texture it receives from the whole oats.

*** A note: When “sifted” comes after the ingredient, it means to measure the flour first and then sift.

 

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Roasted Brussel Sprouts

“But it’s not the same….”

For many of us, the holidays ahead are fraught with mixed feelings. Usually, the anticipation of celebrating with family and friends adds to our excitement and joy, but this year, all around the world, people are being told not to do that one thing which makes the holidays the holidays – gathering with one another.

And that’s hard.

For me and my children, though, we have been having discussions about how we can still celebrate as a nuclear family, and of course, many of those conversations revolve around food.

Those conversations caused us to think about the pluses of not cooking for extended family members this year: you do not have to make that one dish that only one person eats but you “must” have; you can release the “perfectionistic” stress of making the pies and desserts look beautiful for the guests; you will be able to eat when the food is done and not when the last late member of the extended family decides to show up; and you get to keep all the leftovers for yourself instead of sharing with the extended members of the family.

How exciting is that?

To help you menu plan, I’m pointing you to previous years’ posts and adding a recipe for roasted Brussel sprouts below. I know many folks are not fond of them, but I have discovered that many folks have also not had them roasted, which makes all the difference.

I hope this Thanksgiving season will bring you much to be thankful for, despite the global and personal situations we find ourselves in this year.

Turkey Talk

Roasted Vegetable Medley

Winter Squash Soup

Vegetable Souffle

Vegan Spanakopita

Apple Pie

Apple Crisp

Vegan Pumpkin Pies

Grain Free Pumpkin Pie

Vegan, Gluten Free Cornbread for Stuffing

Thanksgiving Muffins

Orange Cranberry Muffins

Gluten Free Popovers

Dairy Free Cranberry Cheesecake

Dairy and Gluten Free Tiramisu

Pie Tips

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Ingredients:

3 lbs fresh Brussel sprouts (off the stalk)

4 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp ground onion powder

1/2 tsp ground garlic powder

Roasting Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line your largest shallow sheet pan with parchment paper. (Depending you may need to roast your spouts in two batches, if you can’t fit them all at one time on the pan.)
  2. Prepare your Brussel Sprouts by slicing off the hard, knobby ends, peeling off any outer leaves which are falling off, and cutting the sprouts in half.
  3. Place the prepared sprouts in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.
  4. Season with the salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.
  5. Place the sprouts cut side down onto the prepared sheet pan, leaving some space around each sprout for air circulation.
  6. Roast for 30 minutes without opening the oven to check on them. When they are done, they will be crispy, blackish-brown.
  7. You can eat as is or if you want, toss them with thin slices of turkey bacon and/or drizzle with your favorite balsamic vinegar and/or a bit of maple syrup.
  8. You can make these ahead of time for Thanksgiving and then pop them into the oven at 300 degrees to rewarm and re-crisp them on Thanksgiving day.

 

Autumn Appetites: Vegetable Frittata

“Finding the beauty….”

The other day I drove up a hill toward my mother-in-law’s and was surprised by the colors suddenly surrounding me. Red, purple, orange and yellow – the leaves of the trees closest to the highway had already begun to change, and set against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, the beauty of it all made me stop – literally, since I pulled over to be able to better drink in the scene.

For many of us, these many months of the pandemic have thrown a wrench into our normal routines, and slowly we have had to build new routines and wrap our minds around new ways of doing and being. But nature has continued its usual paths. The leaves are changing (for those of us in the part of the US where that happens). Temperatures are cooling. Frost warnings compel us to close up the garden.

This latter life cycle event has meant bowls of tomatoes, peppers, kale and onions adorning my kitchen counter. (Fortunately the carrots and potatoes can remain in the ground still for now.) And what to do with the abundance has been a daily question. Like the leaves, there’s a beauty in the deep colors of the vegetables and the fact that we grew these and are reaping from our hard work. So, they should not be wasted.

This is where frittatas are useful. Quick and easy, they are also nutritious, especially when loaded with onions, kale and tomatoes. There’s also the ‘beauty” of a frittata, which are its versatility and indestructibility. You can add whatever you want to a frittata, and you really cannot mess it up. Plus it’s a great way to use up leftover cooked vegetables and meats, which makes for a fast meal on those busy nights.

The Basic Recipe:

2 tsp olive oil (or other preferred plant based oil)

1/2 cup onions (any type: red, white, yellow, green)

1 tsp minced garlic

1 1/2 tsp seasonings (your choice: oregano, thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary, cumin, turmeric, etc….)

3 cups of chopped cooked vegetables and/or meats (If you don’t have leftovers, dice and cook vegetables and/or meats until cooked through: Be creative with kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, peppers, drained tomatoes, zucchini, squash, bacon, ham, chicken, sausage, etc….)*

9 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened “milk” (your choice: regular, soy, coconut, oat, etc….)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

*NOTE: If you want to add cheese (whether regular or dairy free) you can do that, too.

Basic Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a 14 inch cast iron pan, add the olive oil with the onions and minced garlic. Cook over medium low heat until the onions begin to soften.
  3. Add seasonings and cook for a minute to release the flavors.
  4. Add the cooked vegetables and mix well with the onions and garlic and seasonings. *Note: If you are adding cheese, sprinkle it over the top of the filling before adding the eggs.
  5. Whisk the eggs with the milk, salt and pepper, and pour over the filling in the pan. Shake the pan as needed to evenly cover the filling and the pan.
  6. Cook for a couple of minutes until the bottom of the egg mixture begins to set.
  7. Pop the cast iron pan into the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes. When done, the frittata will be puffed and firm to the touch with no runny egg.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Sweet Treats: Egg Yolk Chocolate Chip Cookies

“But what will you do with these….?”

I love making flour-less chocolate cake but if I don’t have egg whites and use whole eggs, I’m left with yolks which I don’t want to waste. So, I started looking around and discovered a nifty little recipe for egg yolk chocolate chip cookies. Of course, the recipe called for butter, sugar and all purpose flour, so a little revamping was required.

Here’s the recipe the kids and I reworked. Great little dessert bites for when you need just a little lift.

Gluten, Dairy Free Egg Yolk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks

1 tsp gluten free vanilla

1/2 cup soy free vegan butter

1/2 cup Truvia stevia-sugar blend

2 1/2 cup King Arthur whole grain gluten free flour blend

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks with the vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer, beat the vegan butter until smooth. Add the Truvia blend and mix well.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the butter mixture and combine until smooth.
  5. Blend together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add to the wet ingredients and blend well until combined.
  6. Add the mini chocolate chips.
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Form batter into balls using level tablespoons of batter.
  8. Place formed cookie batter balls one inch apart on the cookie sheet and flatten each ball.
  9. Bake for about eight minutes, turning the cookie sheet halfway through the cooking time, until cookies are puffed and golden and firm to the touch.
  10. Let the cookies sit on the pan for two minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack to cool.

 

Summer Harvests: Tomato, Zucchini, and Kale Flatbread

“It’s what I want….”

Summer is a special time for our family because we celebrate two of our three children’s birthdays, one in July and one in August. The pandemic, though, put a bit of a damper on our usual festivities, so more emphasis was put on making something special and different for the birthday meals.

One of my daughters wanted to make flatbreads which is not as easy to do gluten free. However, I discovered that Schar makes a thin gluten free pizza crust which I could adapt, and with the garden providing an abundance of fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and kale, we could create our own gluten free flatbreads for my daughter’s birthday meal.

There are no measurements for the ingredients because it really depends on how many flatbreads you are going to make, but I suggest cooking up a lot of the ingredients because once you’ve made a couple of these, you are going to want to make more in just a couple of days!

Tomato, Zucchini, and Kale Flatbread

Ingredients:

garlic cloves (I roasted about 40 cloves)

fresh basil (at least a cup to two cups worth of leaves)

black pepper and salt (to taste)

olive oil (for both the garlic and for the basil-garlic sauce)

onions, thinly sliced (at least a couple of cups worth)

olive oil (for caramelizing the onions)

kale, thinly sliced (at least a couple of cups worth; remember that you double the amount of fresh to get what you need cooked)

zucchini(thinly sliced into half moons; about a couple of cups worth)

minced garlic, olive oil, dried oregano, salt and black pepper (for both the kale and zucchini)

tomatoes (thinly sliced and drained of the seeds; two to four tomatoes at least)

Schar gluten free thin pizza crusts (as many as you think you’ll make; each package has two crusts; we made four but then made another two a day later!)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In an ovenproof pan, coat the garlic cloves with just enough olive oil to keep the cloves from sticking. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes until they are browned and shriveling and the aroma fills your kitchen. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
  3. Add the garlic cloves to a food processor with the basil leaves and begin to food process both, adding just enough olive oil to make a paste. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Set aside.
  4. In a pan on the stovetop, coat the sliced onions with just enough olive oil to coat and cook the onions over low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice until the onions are golden and caramelized. Remove from the heat and let them cool.
  5. In a pan on the stovetop, separately saute both the kale and zucchini with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper until they are tender. Remove and allow them to cool.
  6. Slice the tomatoes and drain them in a colander, removing the seeds. Set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 410 degrees. Place the pizza crusts on a cookie sheet and bake for 3 minutes. Then flip the crusts and bake for another 3 minutes.
  8. Spread some of the basil-garlic paste thinly over the crust. Layer with caramelized onions, then tomatoes, then zucchini, then kale.
  9. Bake in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes until the crust is crispy and browned.
  10. Remove to wire cooling racks for five to ten minutes. Enjoy!

 

Summer Harvests: Zucchini-Squash Bake

“That time again….”

This time of year is my favorite. The garden is blooming with zucchini, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, and kale. From the garden to the kitchen to the dinner table, these veggies make for great meals on summer days. The only down side is that we often find ourselves with such a plentiful yield that I need to come up with different ways of serving the vegetables so we are not caught in a rut.

This week, I had an abundance of zucchini and squash and thought I would look up some recipes online. I noticed that there were several sites boasting a zucchini-squash bake but noticed that they were actually the very same recipe over and over again for using heavy cream and butter and cheese to make a white sauce for the vegetables.

Since a dairy allergy precludes all three of those ingredients, I decided to revamp the recipe to create my own sauce. I also decided the recipe had too many complicated steps and made some changes so the prep work would be about ten minutes tops, and the oven could do the rest. The result was pretty tasty.

Zucchini-Squash Bake

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp oregano

2 tbsp chopped green onions

8 cups sliced zucchini and squash (cut in half, then sliced into half moons)

1 tbsp olive oil (not a mistake – more olive oil in addition to the first)

2 tbsp garbanzo bean flour

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

1 cup Violife dairy free cheddar cheese

1 cup unsweetened soy milk (not a mistake – another cup’s worth in addition to the first cup)

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp ground onion powder

1 cup freshly chopped basil

2 tbsp chopped green onions (yes, another two tablespoons)

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pan, heat the olive oil with the minced garlic, oregano and green onions for about a minute to release the flavors.
  3. Toss in the chopped zucchini and squash moons and saute for about two to three minutes, just until the colors become vibrant and the herbs have flavored the vegetables. Removed from the heat source and set aside.
  4. In a smaller pan, heat the 1 tbsp olive oil for about a minute. Add the garbanzo bean flour and stir until the flour is completely absorbed into the oil.
  5. Add the first one cup of soy milks, stirring until the flour mixture is dissolved and the mixture begins to thicken.
  6. Add the Violife cheese shreds and stir until until melted. It will be thick.
  7. Stir in the second one cup of soy milk until the sauce is thinner and smooth.
  8. Add the black pepper, onion powder and basil. Remove from the heat.
  9. Stir the sauce into the sauteed zucchini and squash until well coated.
  10. Pour the vegetables into an 11 x 7 pan and sprinkle the green onions on top.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
  12. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Corona Cooking: Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

“It is all too much…”

For three months, the world has been in various stages of shutdown due to the pandemic. Bubbling tensions of hundreds of years of injustice is rising to the surface again. People we have known and loved have died, and the only comfort we can give to the families is through virtual funerals. Our family life has been upturned by an ongoing health issue. My brother and many people we know are worried that they will lose their businesses. Relatives and friends have lost their jobs altogether. People we care about have been exposed to and/or contracted the virus. We have not seen family and friends in person for months due to travel bans. For the first time in 25 years, I am back in that stage of applying and interviewing for jobs – just as jobs have become scarcer.

The other day, one of my children made the comment that “It is all too much.” I understood what she meant. At times, life can feel overwhelming. These are situations which we have little control over so they cause much stress, worry, and anxiety. We like to be in control. We want to be able to “do” something, to fix the problems. When we can do nothing, it leaves us floundering.

So, I find myself doing all the routine things. Making my bed in the morning. Mowing the grass when it is high. Gardening. Cleaning. Cooking.

As I continue with my routines, I pray.  I pray for all that I mentioned above. I pray for the people I know. I pray for the people I do not know. I pray for our state, our country, our world. I pray and ask, “Is there anything I can do at all?”

And I realize I can continue to love my children. I can lend support to my friends and strangers as I am able. I can attend social justice gatherings in my town. I can remember that every time one person takes a stand for good, others will join, and amazing things can happen.

And I can share with you my thoughts and my recipes: For those days when maybe you need a little lift, try this vegan, gluten free chocolate-chocolate chip-zucchini cake the children and I made the other day. Comfort food which you can feel good about eating.

Vegan, Gluten Free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake 

Ingredients:

2 tbsp ground flax seed

6 tbsp hot water

2 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend

1 cup coconut sugar (if allergic, use golden monk fruit sweetener or truvia-sugar blend)

1/4 cup Hershey Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

3/4 cup plant-based oil (extra light olive oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, melted coconut oil, etc…)

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup dairy free milk (oat, soy, flax, etc…)

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini

Baking instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 11 x 15 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the ground flax seed with the hot water and set aside to gel, stirring every once in a while.
  3. Mix together the flour with the coconut sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.
  4. Mix the flax seed gel with the oil, vanilla, and milk. Add the grated zucchini.
  5. Stir in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend until well-mixed. Batter will be thick.
  6. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, turning halfway through. The cake will be done when it is puffed, pulling away from the sides and firm to the touch.
  7. Put the pan on a wire cooling rack to cool. It is delicious warm and gooey from the oven, and just as good when it is cooled.

Happy Mothers’ Day: Layered Eggplant and Tomatoes

 

“It’s snowing…?”

Today is Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, and yet yesterday, it snowed on and off all day. When I spoke with my father about it on the phone, he said, “Maybe Mother Nature has the corona virus, and it’s affected her seasons.”

As we are all too aware, the pandemic has definitely affected our lives over the past many months, and I know that one of the ways I have been impacted is that for the first time in a long time, I find myself tired of trying to come up with dinner plans each and every day. With the virus impacting my ability to shop for groceries, our menus have been more limited, and thus has become rather boring.

However, since this is Mother’s Day weekend, the family decided to rise to the occasion. One of my daughters and my son made chocolate covered strawberries, and I decided I really wanted something summery since the weather was not cooperating on that front. Fortunately, I was able to get some eggplant and a variety pack of heirloom tomatoes. Using fresh basil and a vegan parmesan, I created a layered entree which was quite tasty and well worth the work.

I share it with you in case, you too, are looking for inspiration to liven up meal-time during the pandemic.

Layered Eggplant and Tomatoes

Ingredients: Amounts will depend on how much you are making and the size pan you are using.

eggplant

olive oil

oregano

basil

salt

pepper

pear tomatoes

grape tomatoes

cherry tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

minced garlic

vegan parmesan

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Slice washed and dried eggplant into 1/4 circles.
  2. Lay out eggplant circles on a large pan.
  3. Brush both sides of the eggplant circles with olive oil and sprinkle each side with oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
  4. Either grill or broil the eggplant a couple of minutes on both sides until browned.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. In an oven safe dish, lay out cooked eggplant circles to cover the bottom.
  7. Slice tomatoes into halves and layer on top of the eggplant.
  8. Slice the fresh basil leaves and sprinkle on top of the tomatoes.
  9. Sprinkle minced garlic on top of the basil.
  10. Sprinkle the vegan parmesan on top of the basil.
  11. Repeat layers until you reach the top of your dish.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  13. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Corona Cooking: Cinnamon Spice Belgian Waffles

“You have to look….”

Six weeks ago, I was checking out Broadway shows for the trip I had planned almost a year ago for the family to celebrate my birthday in May. We were going to go to NYC before my my eldest moved to CA for a job, my middle child left for an internship, and my youngest busied himself with summer college classes. Six weeks later, our trip is cancelled, our oldest has no idea when she will be moving to CA, and our middle child is waiting to hear if her internship can occur virtually. Only my youngest remains undisturbed because his classes are still going to be online.

Add health issues for my husband, concern for relatives with the corona virus, and trying to adapt life and work in a virtual world, and the adage, “Count your blessings,” can become a bit difficult at times. I was recently reminded, though, by friends who live in other countries with limited access to water, shelter and food and who are struggling with disease and death in magnitude in addition to the pandemic that we must always be looking for blessings to count.

So, I listen to people talk about going for long nature walks and spending more time with their families and learning to bake bread and any number of other “didn’t have time for before” things people are now doing, and I am once again reminded that counting blessings is about looking for them in the first place. If we take the time to look for the positive, the silver lining, the pockets of sunshine, most often we will find them.

Recently our family was thankful that we have had more time for “special” breakfasts as a family. With no early morning rushes to get to school or work, breakfast has become a time for leisure together and for making pancakes or French toast or waffles.  The other day I made gluten, dairy free Belgian waffles which we topped with unsweetened dairy free vanilla yogurt and berries. It was a wonderful way to start the morning, so I share the recipe here for anyone with Belgian waffle makers. They can also be made as regular waffles in a normal waffle maker, too.

Cinnamon Spice Belgian Waffles

Ingredients:

2 cups whole grain gluten free flour blend, sifted (we used King Arthur whole grain blend)*

1/3 cup garbanzo bean gluten free flour, sifted (we used Bob’s Red Mill)*

1/3 cup ground flax seed

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups unsweetened dairy free milk (we used soy but oat or almond or flax will work, too; don’t use rice milk)

1/4 cup plant based oil (we used extra light olive oil but any plant based oil will work)

3 eggs (if you want to use a substitute, I would recommend whisking 3/4 cup chick pea liquid)

* Note: A reminder that if the word “sifted” is after, then you measure before you sift. If you see the word “sifted” before the flour, then you sift before measuring.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Prep your Belgian waffle maker according to instructions.
  2. Measure out the gluten free and garbanzo bean flours and sift. If you don’t have a sifter, you can sift by pushing the flour through a wire mesh basket or taking a whisk and whisking the flour until it is no longer clumped and has some air incorporated into it.
  3. To the flours, add the ground flax seed, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and baking powder. Mix until well blended.
  4. Mix together the milk, oil and eggs.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and blend until completely smooth.
  6. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Use the batter to make waffles according to your waffle maker instructions.
  8. If you need to keep waffles warm, put in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the oven on your lowest heat.
  9. Serve with unsweetened yogurt and/or berries and/or maple syrup and/or jam, and enjoy!