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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Chocolate & Vanilla Parfaits (Halloween-style)

I loved the idea of using vanilla pudding layered with chocolate cookies for a fun, easy holiday parfait.  However, most recipes suggest using 'store-bought chocolate cookies' which I didn't want to do.  I came up with a less sweet chocolate chocolate chip cookie to use in combination with my homemade vanilla pudding in order to create a delicious and fun parfait.  You could easily make these in a more classy (black and white parfait instead of our festive green, orange and black version). 
This is a vanilla pudding/chocolate chip cookie parfait, despite the coloring.  And, yes, I plan to create a mint variety of these parfaits, since the green 'Halloween' version just screams to be turned into a lovely mint parfait.

Chocolate & Vanilla Parfaits
Enough to serve 4-8, depending on the size of your cups/parfaits

Make 1 batch of Kristin's Homemade Vanilla Pudding

To color pudding, if desired, separate into bowls and add liquid food coloring, as desired. 
Here, I split the pudding in half and used 3 drops green for the green pudding and 3 drops yellow + 1 drop red for the orange pudding. 
Top with plastic wrap and let fully cool.


Make 1 batch Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies.  Let cool, crumble and layer carefully in glasses as desired. (Small, narrow juice glasses work really well here)
Our festive Halloween dessert.  It was a hit!

Enjoy!!!

 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is a modification of my triple chocolate cookies. I wanted something a bit less sweet that would compliment my homemade vanilla pudding to use in parfaits.   These were a big hit with everyone, and I thought them a perfect compliment to the sweetness in the pudding. Although everyone has been happily eating them on their own, too. Enjoy!!!


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 36 small cookies

 Preheat oven to 350F.  Line cookie sheets with silicon lining or parchment paper.

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients: (It's important in GF cooking to mix dry ingredients first, to avoid clumping/unusual end results in your cooking)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (dark cocoa powder adds a bit deeper flavor to these cookies)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a mixer, mix together:
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract OR vanilla bean paste

Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mix just until combined.

Mix in:
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Scoop by 1 Tbsp amounts onto prepared pans.  Bake 7-8 minutes.  Let sit 2-3 minutes to cool before removing to wire rack to cool. 

Great on their own, but perfect in combination with homemade vanilla pudding in a parfait!  Freeze any leftovers that you won't use within the first couple days. (Gluten-free baked goods are best kept frozen)
Enjoy!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Banana Pancakes

There are mornings when you either don't have the time or desire to mix up pancake batter, but you still want the taste of warm pancakes, and this recipe fits the bill.  I started making these years ago, and I still find they're a great way to use up those extra bananas we always seem to have lying around.  Although, I would recommend making them before the bananas are too ripe.  (If your bananas are really ripe, then peel them and freeze them in a ziploc and just defrost and use as-is in something like the coconut banana bread w/ lemon glaze or banana bread or banana chocolate chip bread).  Obviously, you have to like banana to like these pancakes, but they're soft and tasty, particularly with maple syrup.  Once I introduced the idea to my mom, she's been eating them everyday! Enjoy!

I tend to cut my large pancake into fourths to serve.


Banana Pancakes
Makes 1 large or 4-6 small pancakes
You can easily double, triple, or quadruple this recipe.  I make this amount for a single serving.
 
Preheat frying pan over medium-low to medium heat.
 
Mash in a bowl with a fork:
½ banana
 

Add and mix until combined:
1 egg
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon
 

Add to pan:
1 Tbsp butter (you can use less, but I like the flavor)
 
Pour either 1 big pancake or several smaller pancakes.  Cook until lightly browned and easy to flip.  Flip and cook on the other side until lightly browned. 
 
This is my giant pancake - you can see it's almost filling the 10" pan.  And, it does end up a little more browned in the centre than when I make smaller pancakes. 
 

Serve with maple syrup, or other toppings, if desired (peanut butter, nutella, whipped cream).
Enjoy!
 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Fabulous Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am constantly playing around with chocolate chip cookies, since I love them.  However, I am also picky about what I'm looking for in a chocolate chip cookie.  I absolutely LOVE my A-MA-ZING chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I love how they spread nice and thin and get a bit crispy. However, I also wanted something that could be puffier to bite into - but still with a wonderful taste that you can't tell is GF. (This is my goal in GF cooking - to make things that noone can tell IS gluten-free because they're so tasty).   My friend Julie (who often taste-tests for me - it's hard, but someone has to do it) said these cookies are her absolute favorite that I've made.  They were also good paired with a chocolate-peanut butter ice cream we simply had to taste-test for her husband. ;)  Enjoy!!!

The cookies look like this if you flatten slightly before cooking.  The picture below is the cookies if cooked as-is after being scooped onto the tray.

Fabulous Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 36-40 cookies (2 Tbsp cookie scoop)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Cream the following:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar

Then add and mix lightly:
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
2 eggs

In a separate bowl, mix together: (you want to mix gluten-free flours with xanthan gum before adding it to the wet ingredients, so you don’t get clumping)
2 cup white rice flour
2/3 tsp xanthan gum (aka, little less than 3/4 tsp)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mix.
Fold in:
1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (more or less depending on your personal preference)

Drop 2-Tbsp-sized scoops 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheet.  You can flatten slightly OR leave as-is for puffier cookies!   Bake at 350F ~10 minutes, until lightly browned on edges.   (You can also make smaller 1-Tbsp-sized cookies and bake ~7 minutes)

Remove from oven, let cool on pan a few minutes before removing to wire rack.

These freeze REALLY well!  I tend to freeze them once cool (after we've taste-tested them), and just pull them out to snack on when we (I) want a treat.  

Enjoy!!!
Lovely puffy cookies - this is how they turn out if you don't flatten at all prior to baking.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Extreme Nachos

These came together as a sort of accident, since I was looking to do a little something extra to our taco meat since we planned to use it for nachos rather than tacos. They turned out so delicious we've been making them regularly ever since and calling them our "Extreme Nachos".  Yes, of course these are fancier nacho platters around, but the name seems to have stuck in our house. You could easily use the meat in tacos, and it would be great, too!  They are great with salsa on the side, particularly peach salsa. 


Extreme Nachos
Serves 4-6

In a large, low-sided pan over medium heat cook until meat is done:
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 - 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced (optional)
3/4 - 1 lb lean ground beef

Add and mix in:
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cayenne powder
1 cup water
1 can (540ml/16oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 - 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely diced (Optional)

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Lower heat to low/med-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes.  

Serve over corn tortilla chips covered with melted shredded cheddar cheese(We pop the tortilla chips w/ cheese in the microwave 20-25 seconds to melt, then top with the meat).  Great with a side of peach salsa!  Yum!
My 7 yr old, Monty, who has been loving this meal - he requests it regularly.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Delicious Pumpkin (or Squash) Pasta

It is such fun finding new sweet and savory uses for fresh pumpkin puree.   This pumpkin pasta recipe could easily be made with fresh cooked squash, too!  (for those times you roast some butternut or other squash in the oven and have leftovers - mash it up a bit, and use it in this recipe!)  It was a hearty, delicious meal and quite a nice alternative to most pasta dishes which are either red sauce-based or white sauce-based.  Enjoy!



Delicious Pumpkin Pasta
Serves 4

While you're prepping your pumpkin topping/sauce, boil/cook and drain 1 bag/box gluten-free pasta, as you normally do.

In a medium saucepan or low, wide frying pan, cook the following over medium heat:
2 Tbsp olive oil ( I used a sage and mushroom infused oil from Liquid Gold in Charlottetown, where they infuse olive oils with flavors/seasonings. It's fabulous! And, I know there are places like this popping up all over!)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 - 1/2 onion, finely diced
pinch or two of ground sage

Add and mix in:
2/3 - 1 cup pumpkin puree  (fresh is best, but canned pumpkin will work, too.)
2/3 - 1 cup 2% or higher milk (lactose-free works great!)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (a bit less if you grate your own)

Cook, stirring/mixing until it's nice and bubbly.

Remove from heat and stir in:
4-6 Tbsp grated romano cheese (parmesan would work, too)

You can either:
1.  Serve pasta into 4 bowls.  Divide pumpkin topping between bowls, serving over the noodles and gently mix/toss.
OR
2. Toss pasta with pumpkin sauce and then serve into 4 bowls.

Top with a bit of fresh ground pepper, if desired.

We find this hearty enough to enjoy all on it's own, but you can serve with a bit of extra romano cheese on the side, or with toasted garlic bread (I use my white bread recipe, slice, butter and put a bit of garlic powder on top before toasting).

Enjoy!!!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Gluten-Free Ham & Cheese Roll-Ups

These are a fun and delicious lunch or dinner idea.  They're like savory cinnamon rolls - a light biscuity tasting dough (I have two variations included that you can use for your dough) filled with onions, ham and cheese.  Though I've never had a gluten-filled version of these, they're based on a recipe from one of my parents neighbors, Aundrea Esplin.  I thought the idea was so fun and could easily be converted into tasty gluten-free treats!  My family and friends have really enjoyed these.  I plan on future experimentation with alternate fillings, they're so delicious!  I find they're best warm, making them melt in your mouth! Enjoy!


Gluten-Free Ham & Cheese Roll-Ups
Makes 18 individual roll-up buns

Grease 18 muffin tins OR 9x13 pan (or make some in muffin tins, and some in a pan like cinnamon rolls) You can always fit most of them into a 9x13 pan and then put any extras in another small baking pan, since this recipe tends to make a bit more than comfortably fit into a 9x13 pan.

In a bowl, put 2 eggs (still in shells) in hot water - just to warm them up. Or just have your eggs ready at room temperature.

Mix and set aside to rest 5 minutes:
3/4 cup warm water (OR 1 cup warm water for fluffier* roll-ups)
3 tsp rapid rise yeast (OR 5 tsp rapid rise yeast for fluffier* roll-ups)
1 Tbsp sugar

*Fluffier rolls: I found the dough to be a bit more difficult to work with, but you do end up with a puffier end result.  Either way is great, it just depends on your personal taste.  The softer/fluffier the end result in GF cooking, the stickier your dough will be while you're working with it. 

Mix together in a small bowl:
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, mix together:
3 1/2 cups Kristin's Gluten-Free Flour Mix (This is a bit more than one batch of my flour mix)
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Add to the dry ingredients:
yeast mixture
butter mixture
2 eggs, room temperature

Mix thoroughly with a large spoon, using the back of the spoon to help create a nice, smooth dough.

Line two large sheets of plastic wrap side by side on the counter, overlapping a bit.
Spoon out large scoops of the dough and place along the middle of the plastic wrap.
Pull out another two large sheets of slightly overlapping plastic wrap to cover the dough.You’ll then flatten out the dough between the sheets until you have – more or less – a piece of dough that is flattened to somewhere near 12"x20". Try to make it nice and even.You have to slightly adjust the plastic wrap as you’re doing this, since it sometimes gets caught underneath the dough.But, you’ll find the dough doesn’t stick at all to the cling wrap, which is fantastic!  Pull off the top layer of plastic wrap.
You can definitely flatten the dough with a rolling pin on top of the plastic wrap and it'll look a bit neater than this, but I tend to have little kids helping, and they like to help flatten things out.

Spread the dough with the following - the amount of filling is up to you, but the following will serve as guidelines, you may like more/less:
Ranch Dressing, a thin layer
1/4 - 1/2 onion, finely diced
ham, diced (I used 7-10 slices of ham, diced into small pieces)
3/4 - 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (A cheddar cheese blend works nicely)


Carefully roll up the dough, so you have one 20" long roll of dough.Pulling up the plastic wrap can help you get the dough to roll over.  Cut the dough, using a serated knife, into 18 equal pieces. (like you would for cinnamon rolls)

If you make the fluffier version, it won't cut as neatly during this part.

Place each section into a greased muffin tin OR 9x13 pan.   Set uncovered to rise in a warm location 30-45 minutes, until they appear that they have gotten a bit puffier.  (They won't double, but they will look a bit swollen).
The rolls on the left are the less fluffy version of the recipe, those on the right are the fluffier version. I used extra filling in the fluffier version, making them a bit messier during the roll-up.

Brush the top of each roll with:
1 egg, beaten + 1 Tbsp water

Sprinkle the tops with:
Grated parmesan OR romano cheese


Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes for muffin cups, 30-35 minutes for 9x13 pan, until golden brown and cooked through. 

Store leftovers in the refrigerator.  Or, you can freeze individually so you have ready-packed roll-ups for lunches!  Best served warm.
Enjoy!


Friday, 4 October 2013

Delicious Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes - Gluten Free!

A good spice cake is delicious, but a good pumpkin spice cake, now that's something to write home about!  These cupcakes turned out beyond delicious - better than I had even hoped for!  They had a slightly crispy top which perfectly balanced the delicious moist cake.  They're delicious with a lighter cream cheese frosting, recipe below, but we loved them without any frosting at all. They're so flavorful, they can stand on their own.  Enjoy!

I am constantly working on new pumpkin recipes!  I've included a list of my recipes with my instructions on how to make easy homemade pumpkin puree.

Amazing Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
To create perfect wedding-ready pumpkin spice cupcakes, I used oil in the batter to get a fluffier cupcake.  I then used a generous amount of my regular cream cheese frosting recipe, and piped on large swirls.  The tops were then sprinkled with a dusting of ground nutmeg to create a finished look. 
Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcake
When making these for everyday eating, I tend to just slather on frosting with a knife - and use the lower sugar version (below).

Delicious Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Makes 9 cupcakes (You can easily double the recipe)
Cake recipe based on a Food Network magazine recipe, but modified to be gluten-free.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line muffin tin with 9 paper liners.

Mix in a large bowl (It is important to mix dry ingredients first in gluten-free cooking, or you will end up with inconsistencies in the batter):
3/4 cup Kristin's gluten-free flour mix
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice + pinch of cloves (OR 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp ginger, pinch of cloves)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

In a mixer, mix the following until fluffy:
1/2 cup butter, softened OR  1/2 cup oil (they'll be a little fluffier and still delicious!)
3/4 cup sugar

Add and mix in:
2 eggs
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree will work)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (vanilla bean paste is best)

Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. 
Pour batter evenly into muffin cups, filling ~ 3/4 full. 

Bake at 350F for ~25 minutes.
Remove from oven.  Let cool removed from pan on a wire rack. 
Fresh out of the oven.  They should be nicely browned on top.

Pumpkin paper liners are a festive fall look.  Let cool completely before frosting, or just eat warm. ;)

Frost with cream cheese frosting, if desired.  Although, we enjoy them without any frosting at all, too!   You can store un-frosted cupcakes in a tupperware at room temperature for up to a few days, if they last that long.
ENJOY!

Cream cheese frosting:
You can use the cream cheese frosting recipe that I use with my cinnamon rolls, but I enjoy this lower sugar version here on these cupcakes:

Mix together:
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp butter, softened
10 drops liquid vanilla-flavored stevia
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

Note: This is very similar to my regular cream cheese frosting recipe, only with a bit less vanilla extract/bean paste and stevia in place of 1.5 cups powdered sugar.  In other words, just add 1 tsp vanilla and 1.5 cups powdered sugar in place of the stevia extract if you prefer regular frosting (although that would make quite a bit more frosting, so you may want to halve the frosting recipe if you use all sugar/no stevia).

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Pumpkin Soup

Would you believe we ate this all so quickly, I completely forgot to take a picture of it.  I had really been wondering if it was possible to make pumpkin soup using pumpkin puree, since I prefer to bake my pumpkins to cook them rather than fight the pumpkin to peel and chop it into chunks which could be boiled.   It was just my luck that the Food Network Magazine had a little blurb on making pumpkin soup using canned pumpkin.  I modified the recipe a bit, since I prefer to have a bit of onion and carrot in my fall soups, and this version turned out very nicely.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Soup
Serves 6-8

In a large pot over medium heat melt:
2 Tbsp. butter

Add and cook 3-4 minutes, until onion is tender:
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced thinly

Add, and bring to a boil:
3 cups chicken broth OR 3 cups water + 3 tsp asian mushroom seasoning

Let the soup simmer 10-15 minutes, until the carrots are tender. 

Add and allow to simmer 2-3 minutes:
2 cups pureed pumpkin (canned or homemade pumpkin puree)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
salt and pepper

Add, if desired:
1/4 - 1/2 cup 2%-4% milk or cream (lactose-free milk works great)

Remove from heat.  Using a stick blender (or other blender), puree soup until it's your preferred consistency. I like to leave mine a little chunky, but it's nice thoroughly pureed as well. 

Serve with sliced and toasted garlic bread.  It's great with homemade white bread, sliced, buttered and with a bit of garlic powder sprinkled on top and heated in the oven until lightly browned. 

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Waffles

I absolutely love making pumpkin foods in the fall. Of course, you can make these any time of year, but in the fall they are especially appropriate.  These waffles have a wonderful spiced flavor to them. They'll have a crispy outside and a slightly softer inside than your normal waffles because of the pumpkin puree.   You can cool and freeze any leftovers and reheat them in a toaster oven.  Enjoy!

I'm adding a bit extra to this post: These waffles are yummy - and we enjoy them, but my husband and son want me to add that their absolute FAVORITE pumpkin breakfast is my fluffy pumpkin pancakes.  They also wanted me to add that while they enjoy these pumpkin waffles, their favorite waffles are still my apple cinnamon waffles.  I must say that I agree on both counts.  So, give those recipes a try! Enjoy!
Yum!  I love the slightly orange color from the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Waffles
Makes 12 waffles (Yes, you can double or triple this recipe!)

Mix in a separate bowl:
1 cup Kristin's gluten-free flour mix
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of each: cloves, nutmeg, allspice
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Mix together:
1 1/4 cup milk (lactose-free works great)
1 egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (canned 100% pumpkin OR make your own pumpkin puree)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted

Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients.  Set aside while you pre-heat your waffle iron.
I find if you use homemade pumpkin puree the batter will be a bit chunkier than if you use canned pumpkin.  You can make sure to thoroughly mash up your fresh pumpkin puree before you cook with it, but either way, it'll turn out just lovely. 

Preheat waffle iron (I'm assuming this takes yours 5-10 minutes).

Butter waffle maker, and cook waffles like you would normally.  I like to do mine a bit longer/extra for a bit of additional crunch.  Set on a cooling rack once made.

Serve hot with syrup and any other toppings you like.
Cool and freeze any leftovers. Reheat in a toaster oven.
Enjoy!!!