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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Panfried Potatoes

I prefer baby potatoes, or potatoes with thin skins for pan frying potatoes.  I find some types of potatoes hold up better than others during pan frying, but if you've par-boiled them first, it seems to make a big difference since they just need the time in a pan to brown rather than trying to cook all the way through.  The trick to delicious flavor? A mix of butter an olive oil (thank you Julia Child's - her DVDs of old episodes Are such fun on chilly winter nights).

And for anyone wondering why I've posted so little this December, it's because I've been cooking up a storm for a mega gluten free wedding reception for my brother Mike and his lovely new wife Amanda.  Expect plenty of wedding related posts and pictures to come! It was a great dessert-filled party!

Panfried Potatoes
Serves 4 (you can easily make more)

Wash and coarsely chop:
2-3 handfuls baby potatoes

Place in a pot with cold water.  Cover, and place over high heat until it comes to a boil.  Boil, uncovered ~10 minutes, until potatoes are tender.   Remove from heat and drain.

Heat over medium to medium-high heat:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter

Add and cook, stirring occasionally, until potato edges are browned and crisp on edges:
cooked baby potatoes
1/2 onion, chopped OR handful of green onions, diced (optional, but adds flavor)
note: I tend to wait until the potatoes have been cooking for a few minutes before adding green onions, if I'm using those. If using regular onion I add it at the same time as the potato.
Cooking potatoes a few minutes, before adding green onions.

Salt and pepper, to taste. 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My "Stout Family Punch" Recipe - for all ages

This is the delicious punch recipe I remember from holidays as a child.  My papa, Monte Stout, or uncle, Randy Stout, would mix it up, and everyone (and I mean everyone) loved it.  It became affectionally known in our house as the "Stout Family Punch."  To me, it just isn't a big holiday family meal without it.   It's become a favorite (and is now requested in double-batch size) for the PEI MacEachern family Thanksgiving feast as well.  Enjoy!
Thanks Uncle Mark Stout for whipping up this delicious batch Christmas Eve! Yum!!!! 

"Stout Family Punch" Recipe

Mix together in a large punch bowl until thoroughly combined and sugar is completely dissolved:
1 large can pineapple juice (~46 oz)
1 can frozen 100% orange juice + 3 cans water (or 1 liter 100% orange juice)
1 packet tropical punch kool-aid (just the flavor pouch - don't add extra water)
1/2 - 1 cup sugar

Pour in slowly:
2 liters ginger ale

Your holiday is complete!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Homemade Caramels OR Caramel Sauce

I've been whipping up caramels dipped in dark and white chocolate for my brother Mike's wedding. I'll have to add some extra pictures sometime when I'm not in wedding mode, but for now here are some I made awhile ago. These are decorated with chocolate transfer sheets after dipping in chocolate.  The best part about this recipe is it also makes an absolutely delicious caramel sauce, too!  Just cook it to a lower temperature and you'e good to go.  I prefer to use brown sugar for this recipe - white sugar gives a light flavor, light brown sugar a stronger, and dark brown sugar an even richer flavor.  You can even make a half recipe if you don't want as many caramels.  Enjoy!
Caramels dipped in dark chocolate with chocolate transfer sheets on top. Yum!

Homemade Caramels OR Caramel Sauce
Makes 9" x 9" pan OR 9" x 13" pan for thinner caramels

Butter a 9" x 9" pan OR 9" x 13" pan for shorter caramels.
*Use a metal pot (not a non-stick) in this recipe.*

Put into a high-sided pot with a candy thermometer in pot:
4 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup whipping/heavy cream
2 cups white OR brown sugar (brown gives a richer taste)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch salt

Cook over medium heat until temperature of caramel mixture is:
228-233F for caramel sauce (temperature range gives thinner or thicker sauce)
235 - 240F for caramels (temperature range gives soft caramels - too soft to dip, but nice to fill chocolate molds with up to stiffer caramels - still softer than store-bought, but hold shape.) I tend to go just to 238F for the caramels I want to dip in chocolate.

Remove from heat and IMMEDIATELY mix in:
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste OR pure vanilla extract

Cool on a wire rack until room temperature (or let cool a bit and use anytime if making caramel sauce).   Cut into squares.  Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap.  These are great cut into squares and dipped in chocolate.  Store extra caramel sauce in a jar.  Caramels keep for several weeks if wrapped well.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Kristin's Granola Bar Bites!

We found some tasty gluten-free granola bar-type cookies while visiting my sister in Dallas, Texas.  They were by Alyssa's Bakery and are gluten-free.  While they are called 'cookies' we found they're more like eating a little granola bar.  They were perfect for travelling, so we picked up extra boxes to go.  Once home, I have done some experimenting to come up with a similar style granola bar bite cookie. These have been a hit! And are SO easy to whip together.  My friend Julie told me I have to get these posted asap so she can make some herself!  They freeze well, too, so I tend to keep a bag in the freezer that we can just take out a few at a time as we want them.
Fresh out of the oven granola bar bites

Kristin's Granola Bar Bites!
Makes ~20 granola bar bites

Combine the following in a bowl or mixer:
1 cup oats (use gluten-free oats if celiac or sensitive)
3/4 cup oat flour (use gluten-free if celiac or sensitive)
1/2 cup finely ground raw sugar or organic cane sugar
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup ground chia seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried black currents
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 egg whites
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda

Scoop 2 Tbsp scoops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.  Cook at 350F for 9-11 minutes.
Transfer to cooling rack to cool.  These freeze really well and are great for snacks. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Crepes - for savory or sweet fillings!

We love making and eating crepes around here.  They never last more than a couple days since everyone wants to fill them with savory and sweet things for every meal! I played with the combination of flours a bit - wanting something that was not all cornstarch or brown rice flour.  I love how these turned out - I have made them this way a few times now, and they are delicious. Enjoy!
A plate full of ready-to-eat crepes! Delicious!
Crepes with local flavor - local cheese, meat, spinach, cucumbers & colorful brussel sprouts with a dollop of hot pepper jelly my friend Julie and I canned on the side! Yum!

Crepes - for savory or sweet fillings!
Makes 24 10" crepes

Preheat 10" crepe pan over medium-high heat.

Blend together with a stick blender:
4 eggs
2 cups milk (lactose-free works great)
2/3 cup cold water
3/4 cups cornstarch
3/4 cups arrowroot starch
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon

Add and blend in:
4 Tbsp butter, melted

Butter pan only for 1st crepe.  Pour ~1/4 cup batter into pan, quickly pick up and rotate the pan around so the batter spreads out thinly.

Cook until batter appears dry, then flip crepe.  Cook briefly on the other side.  Each side should be lightly browned.  They cook up quickly, so keep a close eye on things.

Put on plate, then repeat.  They can be stacked right on top of one another.  To save leftovers, cover plate with crepes with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Warm briefly in the microwave if they are sticking to each other. (I find they only stick together a bit after being refrigerated. Fresh crepes won't stick together and are a great make-ahead for a meal or dessert)
I warmed one side of the crepe briefly, then flipped it over and put local cheese, local smoked turkey & local organic spinach on one half.  I folded it in half, then half again, as shown below.
I cooked the crepe briefly on each side before serving.  These were a HUGE hit! Delicious!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Chili - with multiple veggie options

My go-to chili recipe, in time for chilly weather!  I tend to vary things up when I'm making chili, throwing in different types of veggies depending on what I have on-hand, or what sounds good at the moment.  I've given a number of options here - and just written 'optional' next to them.  You can throw things in that you like and leave out things you dislike.  A win-win for everyone! We like to eat it with a variety of things -  homemade cornbread, tortilla chips, over baked potatoes, on top of nachos, with GF crackers or bread.  This version isn't too spicy - but I tend to just add an extra pinch of cayenne powder, and use a heaping Tbsp/tsp of chili powder and cumin if I want a spicier chili. Enjoy!
Chili made with sweet potato & corn, topped with cinnamon-sour cream, fresh cilantro & green onion. Mmmm... 
Fresh chili in the pot - almost ready to eat! Made with local corn, onions & purple celery!

Chili - with multiple veggie options
Serves 4-6

In a medium-large pot or large high-sided frying pan, heat over medium to medium-high heat: 
2-3 Tbsp olive oil

Add and let cook 2-3 minutes: 
1 onion, chopped

Add in, cooking until browned:
1 lb. ground beef 

Add in a variety of the following veggies, and cook 3-5 minutes, until veggies are tender, but not soft: 
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet potato, peeled & diced in small pieces (optional)
1-2 stalks celery, diced (optional)
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
1 small zucchini, chopped (optional)
1 small yellow squash, chopped (optional)

1 large can diced tomatoes
1-2 cups beef broth (add more/less depending on thick you like your chili)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin 
1 - 1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and let simmer ~20 minutes.  Check to make sure the sweet potato is softened.  I like to cut them into very small pieces, so they cook quickly. If it's not, continue simmering a few extra minutes.  

1 can kidney beans and/or black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels (optional)

Let chili simmer ~10 minutes after adding beans and corn.  Serve hot with your preferred side and/or toppings. Enjoy!

Topping ideas: 
grated cheddar cheese
sour cream (add a pinch of cinnamon to the sour cream for something a little different)
fresh cilantro
sliced green onions

Side ideas: 
tortilla chips
homemade GF breads and/or crackers
baked potatoes
Chili topped nachos! (still steaming)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Tempering Dark, Milk or White Chocolate

There's a great deal of information out there regarding tempering chocolate.  Unless you want shiny dipped chocolates, chocolate decorations, or molded chocolates that can last days without looking funny (blooming to streaking) - don't bother with tempering.  Just following the instructions I've given here for dipping your chocolates, and enjoy.  Anything eaten within a day or two will look just fine made this way.  And if you store your chocolates in the refrigerator, they can look great for a couple weeks.  However, sometimes I want lovely crisp, shiny tempered chocolate.

Homemade molded truffles & caramels, decorated with edible shimmer, colored cocoa butter or chocolate transfer sheets. 

Why would you want to temper your chocolate?  The short story is: Tempered chocolate has a smooth sheen.  It hardens quickly - so you don't have to put things in the refrigerator to cool/harden the chocolate. It's crisp and not soft, so when you bite into it, it isn't mushy tasting - it snaps.  If you make molded chocolates, dip chocolates, or make chocolate decorations - it is nice to temper the chocolate or you might get what is called 'blooming' or 'streaking'.  There's nothing wrong with chocolate that has streaks or blooming in it, but it doesn't look as pretty and means your chocolate won't have that crisp snap to it since it's not "tempered".
Molded pear-shaped truffles with chocolate just going out of temper - hence the swirls. No problem! Still tastes delicious - and looks rather neat, too. (Although I try not to do this)

I love making molded chocolates - although I keep it to about once or twice a year that I get out my molds and whip things together.  I'm all about simplifying my cooking while ending up with the best possible result, and this version of tempering chocolate is about as good as it gets. You still need patience during the cooling part of the process.  If you're nervous about using a microwave to make these. No problem!  Just set your toaster oven (or regular oven) to 175-200F and use that to slowly heat up your chocolate.  It takes a bit more time to bring things to temperature, and you still want to remove the bowl every couple minutes to stir the chocolate, but since it heats a bit slower, it will give you a bit more time to get used to how quickly chocolate heats up and how slowly it cools down.
A variety of molded chocolates - made with tempered chocolate. 

Tempering Dark, Milk or White Chocolate
Based on directions in the book 'Making Artisan Chocolates' by Andrew Garrison Shotts (a beautiful chocolate making book)

You can temper as much or as little chocolate as you like.  Just use the following percentage guideline:

Place 75% of your total amount of high-quality chocolate (chopped or as chips) in a microwave-safe bowl.  Save 25% chopped, chips or as a large hunk for later.  (For example, I typically use 3 bags ghirardelli or guittard chocolate chips and save 1 bag for later in the recipe. I find milk & white chocolates can be thick and a bit difficult to work with - but the guittard chips seem a bit less sticky than ghirardelli.  My favorite are Callebaut, with a proper consistency for molding, but I have to order these online.  However, the taste and texture is wonderful to work with!). 

* Purchased chocolate chips have varying amounts of cocoa butter in them. Some melt and are quite sticky and others are nice and smooth and flow easily.  Unfortunately, for most of us not ordering bulk from chocolate companies, it just takes a bit of experimentation to find the right kind.  Just don't get any chocolate that has 'extra' ingredients added into it, or it won't temper properly.  I find milk chocolate tends to be harder to work with and temper than dark chocolate - so best to keep that in mind!

Tempering process:
Usually takes me ~45 minutes - 1 hr.  A little longer if heating in toaster oven/regular oven (as mentioned above as a heating option, though the cooling time is the most time-intensive part of this process). 

Step 1: 
Heat 75% total chocolate in the microwave for 60 seconds at 50% power.  Stir well (even if it looks like nothing has happened).  Repeat heating and stirring process.

Heat until 115-120F.

Step 2:
Place bowl on the counter and let SIT for 10 minutes.

Step 3:
This next step takes time - be patient as you wait for your chocolate to cool.
Start adding ~ half of your 25% remaining chocolate by handfuls to your melted chocolate.  Stir in thoroughly.  Stirring every 20-30 seconds, allow the mixture to lower in temperature to:
86F for dark chocolate
81F for milk or white chocolate
When your initial chocolate you've added has melted in most of the way, add another handful or two of chocolate to your mixture to help it continue to cool.   Keep stirring every 20-30 seconds.  Be patient!  This can take 30-45 minutes or more depending on how much chocolate you have melted.

Step 4:
Once your chocolate has cooled.  Return it to the microwave and heat 1-5 seconds at 50% power.  Chocolate heats fast compared to how slowly it cools!  You don't want to go above 91F for the dark chocolate or ~89F for the milk chocolate, or the chocolate will go out of temper.
Heat chocolate to:
89F for dark chocolate
86F for milk or white chocolate

You can scoop out any chunks of chocolate that didn't melt all the way.  (Plop them on parchment paper and save them and reuse them next time you temper chocolate - or save for chocolate chip cookies, etc.)

Step 5:
Test your tempered chocolate on **parchment paper by drizzling a small bit with a fork. It should harden quickly.

Now, work quickly!  Use chocolate however you like for molds, dipping, piping decorations, etc.  Don't use too much chocolate from the bowl at a time, so the chocolate stays warm.  If you worry it's cooling, place it back in the microwave for 1-5 seconds at 50% power.  Make sure to give the chocolate a stir occasionally, so you can keep it in temper.

If you lose the temper, then you will have to reheat the chocolate back to 115F-120F and start the process again.

**Parchment paper is wonderful for chocolate making - I use it to line the counters & line cookie sheets.  I line containers with it before putting tempered chocolate items in them.   It helps a great deal with clean-up, too!
Molds filled w/ tempered chocolate, then shaken to remove excess, and excess scraped off with a knife.

Molds filled most of the way with white chocolate ganache filling. Extra white chocolate was put on top once filling set.  I find they're easier to get out if I pop them into the refrigerator for a few minutes before removing. (Plus, I sometimes don't bother tempering the chocolate going on the bottoms, so refrigerating it a bit helps it harden).

Finished chocolates - lightly dusted with edible shimmer.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cranberry-Pumpkin Bread

This has long been a family favorite since I was a kid.  Cranberry-pumpkin bread being made always meant the holiday season was underway.  I've previously posted the pumpkin bread we make regularly, but there's something festive about this particular bread with the mix of sweet and tart.   I prefer and would recommend making it in mini loaf size, since I find the crust has an extra bite of sweetness to it in this bread, and so I like having more of it! Enjoy!
Gluten Free Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
Gluten Free Cranberry-Pumpkin Bread

Cranberry-Pumpkin Bread (Our Family Recipe - converted to GF)
Makes 4 mini loaf pans or 1 loaf pan

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease (butter) and flour (use GF flour mix) 4 mini loaf pans or 1 large loaf pan.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl: (it’s important to mix GF flours on their own before adding to wet ingredients)
1 1/2 cups white sugar (OR 1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup honey (mixed in with liquids))
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice + pinch of cloves (OR ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ginger, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, pinch of cloves)

In a separate bowl, mix together:
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
¾ cup pumpkin puree (canned 100% pumpkin or make your own pumpkin puree)

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.

Fold carefully into batter:
1/2 bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried off (you can freeze fresh cranberries to use later - baking time will need to be increased to compensate)

The batter should look like this - a bit smoother if you're using canned pumpkin rather than homemade pumpkin puree. 

Pour batter into prepared pans, filling each pan halfway.
Bake 40-45 minutes for mini-pans and 70-75 minutes for large pans.
Let cool in pans on cooling rack 5-10 minutes before unmolding.  Cool & slice.
Gluten Free Cranberry Pumpkin Bread Gluten Free Cranberry Pumpkin Bread
Let bread cool 5-10 min. in pans, as on left, before carefully removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pumpkin Pie!

This is a wonderful pumpkin pie recipe with flaky buttery crust and a rich filling, which you can make with or without dairy!  My husband and son absolutely love this pie and inhale it every time I make it.  I always think it will burn or something will happen to it while it's cooking since you start at a hotter temperature and then lower the heat, but it always seems to work itself out and end up with a nice browned crust and perfect filling.  We've already enjoyed this at our Canadian Thanksgiving here, but I think we'll have to whip it up again for the American Thanksgiving. One can never be too thankful (or have too much pie)!  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie!
Serves 8

Preheat oven to 400F.  Put a cookie-tray in the oven to heat up (you'll place the pie on this cookie tray while cooking).

Prepare pie crust recipe (or recipe of your choice).  You will just need 1/2 the recipe for this pie, so you can save the remaining dough to use for a quiche, pie, or galette.  Line the bottom of the pie plate with the pie crust and prick the bottom with a fork.
Pie crust rolled out between plastic wrap, and pressed into the pan.  Use plastic wrap to shape the edges nicely (so it doesn't stick to your fingers!)

Mix together in a large bowl until smooth:
2 cups pumpkin puree OR 100% canned pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar (dark or light, but I prefer dark)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup thick part of canned coconut milk OR 1/2 cup whipping/heavy cream

Pour into prepared pie plate and put in the oven on top of your preheated cookie sheet.
Ready to pop in the oven! 

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes.  Without opening the oven door, lower the temperature to 350F and cook another 30-35 minutes, until the filling is just set in the center.

Cool and Enjoy!  

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Gouda, Bacon & Onion Quiche w/ Buttermilk Biscuit Crust

There's so many wonderful options when making quiche.  We have some friends who took over the Cheese Lady's Gouda shop here on PEI and they make the most wonderful Gouda cheese (they can now ship to the US as well as within Canada if anyone's interested) - the new name is Glasgow Glen Farms, conveniently located near my house.  It's inevitable that I find uses for this wonderful variety of cheese in my cooking.  Of course, you can replace gouda with any flavorful cheese you like. I find it's uses are similar to a good cheddar.  And, of course, any recipe with bacon has to be delicious, right?! Enjoy!

Gouda, Bacon & Onion Quiche w/ Buttermilk Biscuit Crust

Heat oven to 425F.  Get yourself out a pie pan.
I tend to make a full batch of buttermilk biscuits and use half for the crust and just cook the other half as biscuits.  But, if you just want to make the quiche, mix the crust as follows:

First, make your buttermilk (or just use ¼ cup buttermilk)

In a measuring cup place:
1 ½ tsp lemon juice OR white vinegar

Fill so you have total of:
¼ cup milk

Mix in a bowl:
¼ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup tapioca starch
2 Tbsp cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp cup potato starch
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
¾ tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
pinch of baking soda

Add and dice in with a pastry cutter:
2 ½ Tbsp butter

Add and mix with a spoon, just until combined:
¼ cup buttermilk (from above)

Press biscuit dough gently into pie pan.  I find the batter tends to be sticky – spread out while pouring in the pie plate as best you can, then put a tiny bit of water on your fingertips to help.  Don't worry about it being perfect - it rises as it bakes.

Sprinkle onto bottom of dish:
1 cup sliced or finely chopped Gouda cheese (The 'Cheese Lady's Gouda' on PEI is fabulous!)

On top of cheese put:
1 small onion, diced and sautéed in 1 Tbsp olive oil until tender (3-4 minutes)
Then add:
1 cup chopped pork loin bacon (cooked), or bacon of your choice (cooked)

Mix together in a separate bowl:
4-6 eggs (4 cooks faster, but you’ll have a smaller quiche, I prefer 6 myself)
1/3 - ½ cup milk (lactose free works great)
Pepper (be generous)

Pour egg mixture carefully and evenly over the top of the bacon/cheese/onions.   Pop in the oven!

Bake 10 min at 425F. Lower heat to 350F and cook 20-25 minutes more, until centre is set (doesn’t jiggle when you gently shake the pan).

Remove from oven. Let cool 10-15 minutes before cutting.  Great warm or cold!   Enjoy!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Ginger Pear Tart w/ homemade GF puff pastry crust!

Once I figured out I could make gluten-free puff-pastry, I simply had to do something with all the lovely fresh pears available this time of year.  This is a great treat because there is very little sugar added - the rich flavor is from the pears themselves, and fresh grated ginger.  They're such a perfect combination.  I based my recipe off this one, but I use vanilla bean paste to add extra oomph.  If you don't have the bean paste, you can scrap in a bit of vanilla seeds from a fresh pod and use vanilla extract.  The bean paste really adds something extra to the pear & ginger flavors.  Enjoy! 

Fresh out of the oven. Yum!

Sliced into pieces, ready to enjoy. Look at that lovely flakiness!

Ginger Pear Tart w/ homemade GF puff pastry crust!
Makes 1 large tart (can easily be doubled or tripled using the puff pastry crust recipe)

Make 1 batch of homemade GF puff pastry dough.   Follow the instructions on creating danishes or tarts from letter 4.  You can make this tart any size or shape you want, but avoid having it much bigger than 12x12 (primarily b/c I think the edges are the loveliest part of the puff pastry).

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut off a 2-4" piece from your puff pastry dough.  Roll out your piece into a rectangle (or square) that is ~1/4" thick between two pieces of plastic wrap. (Mine went from 1" to 1/4" thick from the envelope-sized rectangle I had).  Flip your dough from the plastic wrap onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.  Fold in the sides of the dough to create an edge using the parchment paper to help lift the edges.
Rolled out dough.  Dough flipped onto parchment paper, with edges folded up.

Peel and thinly slice:
2 ripe pears (not overripe - make sure they're still firm)

Mix together ginger glaze:
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Brush the dough gently with the ginger glaze.
Layer the pears overlapping (as shown) onto puff pastry.
Brush the remaining glaze over the top of the pears.
Bake at 400F ~12-15 minutes, until nicely browned.

Remove from oven.  Let cool slightly, then slice and serve.  This is great warm or cool. Enjoy!
Mmmm... delicious!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Leek & Potato Soup

 I fell in love with leek & potato soup while living in England.  (Leeks seemed to be plentiful over there).  It's a rich, creamy soup that is just perfect for chilly weather.  I find that locating leeks where I live can be hit or miss.  Luckily, our organic veggie CSA grew some lovely leeks this fall and we put them to use in a soup that was absolutely loved by everyone.  I had no idea it would be such a hit with the kids, but they inhaled it and asked for more.  I also love that while the soup is rich and creamy, it actually has no cream in it. Enjoy!
Gluten Free Leek and Potato Soup
GF Leek & Potato Soup - My son inhaling his leek & potato soup

Leek & Potato Soup
Based on a recipe from Comfort Foods by Bridget Jones (this happens to be my favorite cookbook of all time)
Serves 6-8 

In a large pot over medium-high heat combine:
1/2 cup butter
~3 cups chopped potatoes (use thin-skinned, washed potatoes)
2 large leeks, sliced thinly & rinsed (don't use the very bottom or the dark green tops)
2-3 medium onions, chopped

Wait until the mixture is bubbling nicely.  Put on the lid, lower the heat to low and let the veggies steam for ~15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high.  Remove lid and add:
6 cups chicken broth
2 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 tsp ground pepper

Bring soup to a boil.  Once the soup is boiling, cover and lower heat again.  Let simmer ~20 minutes.

Blend with a stick blender.  You don't want to over-blend or the soup can get a bit too thick.  There will be some smaller pieces of veggies in the soup, but this is okay.

Wonderful served with fresh GF cornbread, made on a cookie sheet so the pieces are nice and thin for dipping.  Enjoy! 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Pumpkin Swirl Bread or Rolls - Refined Sugar-Free!

Just in time for Halloween! Another wonderfully successful cinnamon swirl bread recipe - but this time with pumpkin!  If you want more of a pumpkin pie type taste in your bread, you could add a pinch of nutmeg, ginger & cloves to the cinnamon swirl mixture.   It's delicious plain, and I love that it has no refined sugar, too!  It's also a great way to use up any pumpkin puree that you might have on hand (homemade or canned).  The roll form tends to be a bit stickier than the bread, but they both taste delicious!  Enjoy!
Lovely orange pumpkin swirl bread, ready to eat!
Pumpkin swirl rolls - great plain, topped with butter, or you could even top with a little cream cheese frosting for a pumpkin cinnamon roll type treat.

Pumpkin Swirl Bread or Rolls - Refined Sugar-Free!
Makes 12-15 rolls OR ~5 mini loaves (or you can adjust as desired so you have some of each!)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter 9x13 pan or 4-5 mini loaf pans, as desired.  (You can make this in 1-2 larger loaf pans, but will need to increase the cooking time).

In a mixer combine:
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp quick/rapid-rise yeast
1 tsp salt

Add and beat ~3 minutes:
1 cup canned 100% pumpkin puree or homemade pumpkin puree
1/2 cup warm water
3 eggs
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
4 Tbsp oil 

Combine in a small bowl:
1/4 butter, melted
1/4 cup sucanat sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp cinnamon
* For a more pumpkin-pie taste, add slightly less cinnamon and add 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves 

Swirl briefly/gently into dough.

Scoop large scoops into 9x13 pan OR fill mini loaf pans just above 1/2 full.   Here I've made 12 rolls in the 9x13 pan and have enough to make 1 mini loaf pan.  But you could make 15 rolls or 5 mini loaf pans, so you can adjust as you desire.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm location ~30 minutes, until dough looks almost doubled and bread in pans has risen to be even with the top of the pan.
Before and after rise for the mini loaf 
Before and after rise for the rolls

Bake at 350F ~25-30 for both rolls and mini loaf pans.  Bread should look nicely browned on top and rolls should look lightly browned on top.  (You'll need to cook the bread closer to 45-50 minutes if you make it in larger loaf pans.  Personally, I find they brown too much for my taste on the crust in larger loaf pans, but it'll still taste great)

Remove bread from loaf pans to cooling rack to cool.  Slice and enjoy!  Wonderful plain, or topped with a dollop of butter.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Monster Cookies!

These are a fun cookie - great when you want something in between a cookie and granola bar.  My kids and husband love them!  They're not perfect for everyone, as they do have oats, oat flour and peanuts - but, if you're OK with wheat-free oats & peanuts, then these are a great treat. I add in a bit of brown rice krispies, too, for an extra crunch.  I also made some adjustments to lower the sugar content in these compared with regular monster cookie recipes I've seen around. Enjoy!
Freshly baked monster cookies - ready to eat!

Monster Cookies!

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Makes ~36

In a mixer, beat just until thoroughly combined:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour
1 1/2 cup whole oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 - 2 cups crunchy peanut butter

Add in, mixing briefly:
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup brown rice krispies
1/3 - 1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1/3 - 1/2 cup mini reese's pieces (optional)

Scoop out heaping 1 Tbsp scoops onto the pan.  Top each cookie with 3-4 M&Ms or a few extra chocolate chips.
Topped with 3-4 M&Ms before baking by my 3 year old. 

Bake at 350F ~12-15 minutes, less time for a light brown cookie, longer for a crispier cookie.  Let rest a few minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to wire rack to cool.  You can freeze any leftovers to enjoy later! Enjoy! 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Spiced Vanilla Pear & Apple Jam - sugar-free!

This is the most delicious jam!  It's perfect for the fall when apples and pears are ripe!  I canned a big batch of spiced vanilla pear jam with my friend Julie.  (We used this recipe using all pears).  However, I wanted to just be able to whip some together anytime without having to deal with peeling and chopping so much fruit and canning things.   I also used local fresh apple cider.  This jam is great and easy to whip together and use or pop in the refrigerator.  It's a great spice and vanilla-filled jam for fall. Enjoy!

Finished spiced vanilla pear & apple jam in a 2 cup and 1 cup containers

Spiced Vanilla Pear & Apple Jam
Makes ~2 cups

Combine in a metal medium-sized saucepan:
1 lb apples, peeled & chopped 
1 lb ripe pears, peeled & finely diced
1 cup apple cider
2 tsp fresh lime or lemon juice
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (OR 2 tsp vanilla extract & scraped out insides from 1 vanilla bean pod)
1/3 tsp ground cardamom

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Lower heat to medium-low and allow to simmer ~45-50 minutes, stirring regularly so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
Mixture just coming to a boil, before 45 minutes of simmering.

It will thicken naturally (apple has natural pectin), and so should make a nice, lumpy jam.  It's so delicious, the kids wanted to eat it by the spoonful!   Store in a covered glass container and use within 2-3 weeks.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Quick BBQ (or oven) Naan Bread

This isn't proper Naan, but it's wonderfully thin and crispy with a lovely flavor.  And so quick and easy to whip up, which is important in my house.  I love that you can cook it up outside on the BBQ, too! Or you can pop it in the oven.  Brushed with butter before cooking, it has a lovely flavor that cooks right into it.  It's even egg-free! Enjoy!
Fresh off the BBQ, and still sizzling.  

Quick BBQ (or oven) Naan Bread
Makes 3 large pieces of Naan

Preheat grill to medium to medium-high heat (~450-475F) OR preheat oven to 475F, place 2 cookie sheets in the oven that you'll put your naan bread onto.

Mix in a large bowl with a spoon:
1 1/2 cup Kristin's Gluten-Free Flour Mix
1 tsp ground chia seed
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp dried cilantro, optional
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp quick/rapid-rise yeast

Add in slowly, mixing with a spoon just until mixture holds together nicely:
1 to 1 1/4 cup milk (lactose-free works great)

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small bowl.  Have a brush handy to brush the dough after rolling it out.

Divide the dough into thirds.

Roll 1/3 of the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap until it's nice and thin, between 1/4" and 1/2" thick.  Brush one side with butter.  Flip onto a piece of parchment paper and butter the other side.  Repeat with the remainder of dough.
 If you want a slightly puffier naan, you can let it rest at this point ~15 minutes.  But I find it's wonderful thin and crispy, so I don't bother (not to mention, I want this to be fast!)
Roll between plastic wrap.  Butter one side, then flip onto parchment paper to butter the other side.

Flip quickly onto heated BBQ, using tongs to help straighten it out if it gets folded on itself.  Cook ~5-7 minutes, checking regularly.  Cook until they're a nice dark brown on the bottom.  You can flip these over if you want a bit of browning on both sides, but these are so thin they're nice as-is.

If you want to cook your Naan in the oven, carefully put them on your preheated sheets and cook ~5 minutes, checking regularly.  They may puff up during baking (this is okay!).  Cook until they've got some browned spots.  Remove from oven and serve!