Friday, December 26, 2008

A Belated Happy Holidays!

From Henry, the A-man and me. If we were going to send out Christmas cards, we would surely use this photo taken on Thanksgiving. Though, it's difficult to get Henry to stand still when ten sheep are to the right of him.

I'm traveling quite a bit for the holidays, making my posts sparse, but I'm still cooking up a storm! Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Few of my Favorite Things... (3)

I received a great gift for my Birthday this year from my soon-to-be mother-in-law: a cast iron skillet, a corn tortilla press and some masa harina flour (corn flour with lime in it). I've been having lots of fun with all three, but I have really come to enjoy the cast iron skillet, especially since I threw out my worn and slightly scratched teflon pans not too long ago. There are varying reports on the danger of teflon, but I'd rather err on the side of caution then ingest harmful toxins. Also, the well-respected Environmental Working Group has some really interesting (according to a study, teflon toxicity is linked to hundreds of pet bird deaths) articles on the subject; it really makes you wonder.

There are many other options out there for cookware like stainless steel and calphalon, but cast iron, along with being incredibly inexpensive, has some other perks: it lasts a lifetime, it evenly distributes heat and if seasoned properly, it requires no oil or fat when cooking. has some great tips on buying cast iron (and they also have good ideas for other kitchenware and Christmas Dinnerware if you're still in search of gifts). Lodge also has great tips on cleaning your cast iron and maintaining it.

For those gluten-intolerant folks out there, it should be noted that because of the nature of cast iron and the fact that you don't really "wash" it, there's a big chance that any cast iron passed down from generation to generation most likely could be contaminated with gluten.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Few of my Favorite Things... (2)

You know what I absolutely love? Drinking coffee brewed with just a dash of cinnamon and a splash of almond milk. It makes me feel good, it warms my body and it wakes me up. However, I am addicted to coffee: I rely on it too much to make me feel awake, I crave it first thing in the morning and I often get headaches if I don't have my daily cup of joe. And while I love my coffee, I don't like relying on it to get me through my day. Oh yeah, and I have "borderline" high blood pressure -- I blame it on the fact that my dear A-man is constantly in harms way, but I have a feeling drinking coffee isn't helping things out. So, in order to stear clear of heart-attack land (I also have a heart murmur -- yipee!) I think I should cut back a bit, and I'm starting to and it's all thanks to some wonderful, gluten-free, kosher, and thoughtful tea.

I have never described a food or brand as thoughtful before, but The Republic of Tea really fits the bill. Browsing their catalog makes me smile and feel good about purchasing tea from them: their tea bags are unbleached and have no strings, tags or staples in support of the environment, they offer tons of information on every type of tea they sell and I really dig their variety (buy it loose, in bags or as concentrate). Just recently I went on a bit of a shopping spree for Christmas gifts from them. You see, every tea of theirs is certified gluten-free and kosher. Every single one is gluten-free! And they are the first tea company with permission to include the Gluten-Free Certification Organization's certification mark on its packaging.

My goodness; I haven't even spoken about taste yet. Well, you know that cinnamon scented, almond milk splashed coffee that I adore so much? All of the teas that I have tried so far could rival (and surpass) my morning cup of joe in terms of taste (the chai concentrate is gosh-darn amazing). They even have a line of tea called Be Well Red Teas, all with roobois in them mixed with other teas and herbs. The Red Tea line has teas called: Hello Gorgeous which is good for your skin, Get Clean for detoxing and a whole bunch more for those of us wanting to work on ourselves from within.

I consider The Republic of Tea my nicorette, but way tastier and way better for you.

Tomorrow's favorite thing: not your Grandma's cookware?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things... (1)

I wish I could make like Oprah and give away all of my new, fancy, favorite things to each of you readers, making you cry and scream with excitement like her audience does on her yearly "Favorite Things" show. But alas, I cannot -- not in this economy. In fact, even Oprah had a scaled-down version this year.

So you get a list -- a list of my most favorite gluten-free (okay, and a few that have nothing to do with being gluten-free) gifts for those GFers and health conscious people in your life.

First, I present to you the blender of all blenders; a kitchen tool that Chuck Norris would be if Chuck Norris had to be a kitchen tool: The Vitamix Super 5200

I got an early Christmas present this year from the A-man. He knows we are going to be traveling for much of our Christmas vacation, so he knew I wouldn't be able to "play" with my Christmas present, so he wanted me to open it early. So I did. Last night. And I almost fainted with excitement.

The Vitamix blender is especially good for people with gluten-intolerance because it comes with a "dry blade" which lets you make your own flour! From whole grains! So, I put some raw, whole brown rice into the blender and blended on high for awhile, and out comes flour! I can't wait to try it with millet and sorghrum and tapioca and...

You get the idea. This is also great for people who don't do dairy -- this thing will whip up almost anything you put in it to a creamy-like consistencty. And, if you're a nut-butter lover like me -- you can make your own peanut butter (and cashew, macadamia nut, hazlenut...)! I've only scratched the surface of what this thing can do (after all, I got it last night) but I can't wait to play with it even more. The A-man wants me to keep a tally on my blog of each time I use it and how much money he thinks we'll save over the years grinding our own flour (this is so he can feel okay about spending the amount of money he did on it; let's just say it's an investement). And I can't forget smoothies; the A-man's big on his protein and I have a feeling this thing could turn a steak into a drink. So I'm on to you A-man; it's one of those gifts you give to someone so that you can use it too -- steak smoothies -- I knew it!

On tomorrow's favorite things post: tea for all.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Mini-jam-filled almond muffins to be exact.

In an effort to make a morning treat as healthy and satisfying as possible, I did a little experimenting. First, I tried to make a pumpkin almond (regular sized) muffin and they were, well, absolutely disgusting: the outside was burnt and the inside was a gooey mess with a mealy texture. So, those got tossed. But, being the girl that I am, I didn't give up. I still wanted a high-protein, low-sugar muffin, but my key -- as it is in a lot of my gluten-free baking, was to make it miniature.

And here you have my miniature jam-filled almond muffins. And they're quite satisfying -- just two of these with your morning tea or coffee can fill you up plenty. Also, I made them two different ways: one with egg, and one with ground flax seed heated up with some water (a basic egg replacer recipe) and they both came out well -- the egg-based muffin looked more, well, muffiney -- the other a tad bit grainier, lighter in color and they didn't rise as high -- but still tasty (in photo above, the flax recipe is the muffin on the left, and egg recipe is on the right -- it's the opposite in the photo below).

Mini-Jam-Filled Almond Muffins (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan if you want)

makes nine mini-muffins

1 3/4 cup blanched almond flour (aka almond meal)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg (or 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds mixed with 6 tablespoons water, microwaved for one minute, or until gel-like)
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/4 cup jam of choice

Preheat oven to 325 F and grease a mini muffin pan with shortening or oil of choice.
In a bowl, mix the almond flour, salt, and baking soda until combined. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, vinegar and agave nectar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Fill each muffin tin with a scant tablespoon of the batter, then add about a 1/2 teaspoon of the jam, making a small indent in each muffin. Add about a teaspoon of batter on top of each jam-filled muffin and bake for 10-15 minutes in the oven.

*Said in reference to hilarious youtube muffin sensation found here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Photo Phriday: A Rare Moment

This photo captures perhaps the only moment that Henry got within five feet of my niece this past week. For some reason (well, perhaps the reason is that my bro-in-law decided to chase Henry around the house with the baby in his arms) Henry was scared, and I mean tail-between-the-legs-go-hide-under-the-couch-scared of my niece. It's the strangest thing! This photo was taken within the first few hours that they met, but for the remainder of the visit he stayed far, far away from her.

Oh Henry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Eating Local: Cal's Cupcakes

Okay, okay. So I know when people refer to eating locally, they usually mean buying produce from close-by farms and eating cheese from local goats, but, can a cupcake count? I know the gluten-free flour and sugar in the cupcake probably doesn't come from Massachusetts, but the cupcakes themselves were made just mere miles away from me! So, while not technically correct, in my mind I'm eating locally...

When shopping at my nearby health food store the other night I was browsing the refrigerated section and noticed a box of four chocolate cupcakes calling my name. Usually I ignore this siren's song because most often they are cupcakes made from gluten, but this time I decided to look a little closer and in bold print the words: gluten and casein free were right there on the label. And remember in my last post how I stated I have a difficult time not buying new gluten-free products? Well, this was the perfect example, but surely not a mistake on my part: these things are good.

Cal's Baking Company, a Hingham, Masshusetts based company is the maker of these gems. Deep chocolate with just the right amount of frosting, they could replace any gluten-filled cupcake you've tasted. Cal's also sells a variety of mixes which I have yet to try, and you can special order sheet cakes and cupcakes (something I will surely look into for the upcoming wedding). I felt a special connection to Cal and her family; the story of her son and husband discovering their gluten intolerance is very similar to mine. Perhaps it is to yours too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wallet Friendly Foods: Spicy Tortilla Chip Chicken

The first of the month is bill paying time for me: rent is due, the credit card needs to get paid and it's around the time that my utility payments are due. And with the wonderful news that we are officially in a recession and that we have been in one for over a year, well, I'm trying to cut back a bit (oh yeah, and there's that big holiday coming up that will take a bite out of my bank account).

I'm almost ashamed to admit that I spend close to $400 a month on groceries -- and that's just for me. Mind you, I rarely eat out, often buy organic and free range and make a lot of my food from scratch. My main problem is that I often can't help picking up that new gluten-free food, or trying that funny looking vegetable I've never heard of before. I guess you could say playing with food is my vice. Though, I'd say it's a better vice to have than clothes shopping (which some might argue that it used to be my vice).

Regardless, I need to cut back a bit on the monthly grocery bill, so in an attempt to do so, I've got a recipe to share that's easy on the wallet, uses foods that you might already have and is darn tasty to boot. It's inspired by the recent copy of Cooking Light's recipe for a spicy and crispy chicken sandwich. I omitted the sandwich part and made it gluten and dairy free.

Spicy Tortilla Chip Chicken (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 4 for dinner (or me and one A-man)

4 chicken breasts sliced in half lengthwise
1 cup almond milk (or rice, hemp...)
1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce (or your favorite gluten-free hot sauce)
3/4 cup tortilla chip crumbs (take about 3 cups of gluten-free tortilla chips and ground in a food processor)
2+ tablespoons of olive oil

Place the chicken, almond milk and hot sauce in a plastic bag and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Then, in a pan on medium heat, add the olive oil. Place the tortilla chip crumbs in a wide bowl and coat each chicken breast with the crumbs. Then, add to the pan, making sure not to crowd, and cook on each side for about three minutes each. Place the chicken on a paper towel to drain excess oil and serve.

The chicken is tasty on or with a salad, or make a sandwich out of it with red onion and spicy mayonnaise.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gluten Free Turkey Day Recap & Super Simple Kale Dip

Part of the reason I'm able to stay healthy and stick to my gluten-free diet is because I have a wonderfully supportive family who does whatever they can to adapt and change their recipes to be safe for me to eat. For instance, this Thanksgiving there wasn't a single dish with gluten in it: turkey, ham, pureed butternut squash, cranberry bread, potato celery root puree, mushroom gravy, spinach pomegranate salad, sausage and cornbread stuffing, braised brussel sprouts, spiced cranberry chutney, Indian corn pudding, carrot cake and pies galore.

I could eat it all (and did). I'm one lucky gal.

I should really have my mother write a guest post describing how she did it; how she fed thirteen people with a deliciously satisfying meal, using mostly local ingredients and remaining sane while doing it. The whole family played a large role in fact -- my sister made the spinach salad, pureed butternut squash and braised brussel sprouts. I was in charge of the potato and celery root puree (aka mashed potatoes), pumpkin pie and kale dip. My soon-to-be mother in law made the cranberry chutney (made with wild picked Maine cranberries) and amazing cranberry bread (with a bit of orange zest in it -- yum) and the rest was up to dear mom. Hopefully, she'll take me through how she made the stuffing, because really it should be a staple in all gluten-free cooks repertoire.

And Dad. Dear Dad did all the dishes (and a lot of the food prep). The kitchen was overflowing with dishes once we were done and it was spotless when he was through with it. Now that's a team player.

I thought I'd finish off this post with a super simple recipe for kale dip that I made for our appetizer spread (which also included a cheese tray, shrimp cocktail, and rock crab).

Super Simple Kale Dip

gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian

1 cup light mayonnaise
9 oz package of frozen chopped kale, thawed
1/2 onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until combined (your goal is to make it look like a typical spinach artichoke dip, so try not to over-puree it).

Serve with gluten-free crackers (we used Blue Diamond brand nut thins -- the smokehouse flavor is also dairy-free), carrot sticks and celery.

And of course Henry was there right under the table, just waiting for the occasional crumb to drop.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photo Phriday: Polar Bear Butt Heart?

That's the only title I could come up with for this photo.
At work we recently held a screening for a documentary I co-hosted and produced on Taiwan and as I was looking through photos, I was reminded of this one, taken at the Ju Ming Museum, just north of Taipei.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Millet Solution

Jenny at Sugar and Spice and my Gluten-Free Life recently wrote about breakfast and her quest to find the best replacement for instant oatmeal. I am a big oatmeal fan, but unfortunately have discovered that I can't eat more than half of a cup (of the certified gluten-free kind) at a time without feeling ill (in the celiac/gluten intolerance world, it's still questionable whether oats are acceptable), so I'm in the market as well to find a replacement. After a few failed attempts to find that perfect warm dish of goodness, she came upon Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Mighty Tasty Hot Breakfast Cereal. I'm a fan of this stuff as well, but like a little variety in my mornings, so again on a note from my super-intelligent sis, I played around with some millet. And out came delicious goodness. I adapted a recipe that I found on recipezaar to my liking and what do you know, a warm breakfast that outshines my long foregone oats.

Millet Porridge (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

serves 4 for breakfast

3/4 cup dry millet
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup almond milk (or cow's, hemp, rice...)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt


dried cranberries (or dried apricots, coconut, raisins...)
pecan halves (or almonds, walnuts...)
maple syrup (or honey, agave...)
more almond milk if reheating

In a saucepan combine the millet, water, almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a light simmer and cover. Cook for 25 minutes and remove from heat and serve. Top with whatever you like, but I'm partial to a little maple syrup, dried cranberries and pecans.

It stays well in the refrigerator for a week; when re-heating, be sure to add a bit more almond milk until you reach your desired consistency.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Photo Phriday: Mischief

I have a set of stairs in my place that I often use to exercise Henry with: I throw a toy down the stairs, he chases after it, I wrangle it from his mouth and it goes on and on until he gets tuckered out. I recently threw his favorite rope toy down the stairs and it got stuck in the railing and for some reason that scared him; I just love the look on his face.

Also, notice the stuffed animal remains on the stairs? He's a wild pooch.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sweet Potato Pudding

I had such a difficult time trying to figure out what to call this: Sweet potato souffle? Sweet potato custard? Crustless sweet potato pie? Delicious sweet potato side-dish/breakfast/brunch/Thanksgiving day food? It could be all of them!

If you're a member of my family, or are the man I'm about to marry, you know I can be incredibly indecisive. In fact, I'm so indecisive that I didn't decide where I was going to go to college until about a week before I had to leave (I put two deposits in). So please, be proud of me here, I named it and I'm sticking with it: sweet potato pudding.

I'm kind of in love (darnit, there I go again with the indecsiveness...) I mean I am in love with it. I've already eaten half of my batch. It's pretty simple to put together and the main ingredient, the sweet potato, is another rarely allergenic food! I learned this from my sister because she is starting to introduce my niece to food that is not breast milk and is making an effort to use foods that are the least allergenic and avocado and sweet potato top that list.

I was inspired to create this dish when I was thumbing through my trusty copy of The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen -- a truly awesome cookbook.

Sweet Potato Pudding (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 4 for dessert, or side-dish, or breakfast...

2 lbs sweet potato (or about two cups mashed), cooked and peeled (a simple way to cook a sweet potato is in the microwave: about 6 or 7 minutes should do)
1 cup almond milk (or soy, rice, hemp...)
3 eggs, whisked
2 teaspoons coconut oil (or any other light tasting oil)
1/3 cup agave
2 tablespoons mollasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a baking dish (sorry no measurements -- mine was round and ceramic) with a bit of coconut oil. Whisk together the almond milk, eggs, coconut oil, agave, mollasses, cinnamon, nuteg and salt. Add the sweet potato and either: transfer to a food processor to evenly mix eveything together, or use an immersion blender to incorporate all the ingredients -- I did the latter. Pour into dish and bake for just under an hour, or until a knife comes out clean in the middle.

Serve warm, or chill in the fridge and serve cold.

Henry really has a thing for sweet potatoes; I usualy end up baking the skins that I don't use and give them to him as treats.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bison & Black Bean Chili

One of my favorite things about going skiing happens after I get off the mountain: getting to a ski lodge, unloosening my ski boots and filling my stomach with chili. At that point, I'm usually too cold and my quads hurt too much to care what the chili is actually made of (in ski lodges, it's usually not pretty). All I really care about is the warmth, both from the temperature and the spiciness to heat up my usually frozen core. But now that I have to really investigate the foods I eat away from home, I find it easier to just cook it myself. And while I'm at it, I might as well make it a bit healthier too.

My mother was making a kasha chili when I was home last, and approached me with what beans I would rather have in it: red or black. After comparing the cans' sodium and fiber content, I decided the black beans were a better choice: more fiber, less salt. Also, bison has been my choice of meat in many recipes that normally call for beef. A few reasons why can be found here:

- Bison is the only red meat that is non-allergenic.
- Bison has 40% more protein than beef so you can eat 1/3 less volume and still come away satisfied.
- Bison meat has fewer calories and less cholesterol than chicken, fish, or ostrich.

And apparently they're the only mammal that doesn't contract cancer.

Bison & Black Bean Chili (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 4 for dinner

1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb ground bison
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup of water (or stock)
5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon Thai red chili paste (optional -- use more chili powder if omitting)

In a pot on medium heat, add the olive oil and then the onion. Cook for about five minutes until fragrant. Add the yellow pepper and garlic and saute for at least one minute. If using, here is where I added the Thai red chili paste, if not, season with about a teaspoon of the chili powder. Then add the ground bison and cook until almost cooked through, about another five minutes. Add another teaspoon of chili powder. Then, add the crushed tomatoes, one cup of water, and beans and season again with chili powder. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and let simmer for at least twenty minutes until serving.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Photo Phriday: Drool Inducing

I didn't want to write anything before you got through with the photos because I didn't want to take away from the beauty that is Ricki's recipes. I've been testing out recipes for her cookbook entitled Sweet Freedom (coming out in February! yay!) for just under a couple of months now. And I could really get used to this: recipe tester/documentarian/dog runner. That might just be my ideal lifestyle.

All of her recipes are well thought out and use the healthiest of ingredients with lots of tips and tricks to make her baked goods the healthiest they can be. There really ought to be more cookbooks like this in the market; I think she's starting the trend.

From top to bottom: fruit and nut rice squares, almond cookies, chocolate mint cookies and macaroons. All vegan. Many gluten-free options. And all gosh-darn delicious -- even more reason I would need to be a dog runner/recipe tester: to keep off the pounds because I couldn't stop eating them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Lonely Celeriac

Just look at that guy: indented, dirty, and plain off-putting -- like a pineapple gone horribly bad. I don't think there's a vegetable out there that's scarier looking than the celeriac in it's natural form; it's the ugly duckling of the food world... which makes me like it even more.

I remember seeing an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats where he spent an entire program on the celeriac, so I looked up the episode, found the recipe for his celeriac puree and tweaked it a bit to fit my food intolerances. With is subtle sweetness and earthy flavor, it's perfect for this time of year.

Celeriac and Potato Puree (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

serves 4 as a side

1 head celeriac
1 large potato (I used an Idaho)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
5 cups of water
2 tablespoons milk (rice, almond, hemp...)

Cut the top and bottom off the celeriac and peel the celeriac (do no wash or it will get slimy and become difficult to peel) and cut into cubes. Peel the potato and cut into cubes.

Add the olive oil to a saucepan on medium heat and cook the garlic, celeriac and potato for about five minutes. Increase the heat to medium heat and add the water. Cook the potato and celeriac in the water for about twenty minutes. Drain, place back in pan, add the milk and puree with an immersion blender for about a minute. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

To keep with the Fall theme, you can even serve it in a hallowed out pumpkin (that's A-man in the back reading the paper).

Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo Phriday: Happy Halloween!

For a few years now my dear sister has sent me bizarre Halloween cards in the mail, well actually she's only done it once before this one, but I loved the card so much it remained on my refrigerator for over three years. The stranger, the kitchier -- the better. Her latest one is of my dear little niece...
And the one that started it all: a beautiful rendition of her cat Cormac wishing me a Happy Halloween:
This makes me miss my sister even more than I normally do, so I had to create a Henry one... it's a rush-job, nowhere near as cool as my sister's, but it will have to do. He's a commando for Halloween in honor of the A-man (please note the hat hanging from his neck; he wanted nothing to do with it).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Simple Lentil

There is something incredibly satisfying about making an entirely vegan meal and feeling full afterwards. Before I went gluten and casein(dairy)-free I equated vegan eating with salads and feeling hungry; little did I know that my gluten and dairy intolerances would lead me to eat naturally vegan foods that now make up a large part of my diet. Foods that are satisfying, healthy and simple to put together.

Lentils are pretty cool. There are many different varieties of this round legume: brown, green, black, and yellow just to name a few; brown are the easiest to find around here. They are filling, probably due to the high amount of protein in them and have a good deal of dietary fiber. Also, for the ladies out there -- they're high in folate which is an important to have in your diet if you're thinking about reproducing.

I don't know if anyone else out there is like me, but I often cook right when I get up in the morning. Sure, a lot people probably cook eggs and pancakes first thing in the morning, but for some reason this morning I wanted lentils -- so lentils it is. I adapted a lentil recipe in Mark Bittman's book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and I do enjoy it quite a bit. I hope you do too.

Simple Lentil (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk (including leaves)
1 carrot, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
1 cup of dried lentils
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a pan on medium high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and saute for about five minutes. Add the garlic, saffron, cayenne pepper and lentils and saute for one minute. Then, add the water, bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for at least thirty minutes until the majority of the liquid has reduced. It shouldn't be a soup, but it shouldn't be dry either.

I'm hoping at some point to ground dry lentil into a flour and create a batter to replicate the Indian daal wraps (they have a name that I cannot remember) that I get at Indian restaurants. They are amaaaazing.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mom's Stuffed Pumpkin

If you can't tell by my Monday posts, Sunday is usually family day for the Good Eatah clan. In the past few months, the table has only been set for four people since my beloved sister, bro-in-law and niece moved to the mid-west. Come Thanksgiving though, we'll have a table set for thirteen which I'm really looking forward to. The A-man and his family will be coming down, my aunt and uncle will be in attendance and my sister, bro-in-law and niece are coming for a whole week! My mother is an amazing cook (or a "good cooker" as I used to call her when I was little) and always puts together an amazing spread and is now trying really hard to make her signature dishes gluten-free.

My sister, father and I are gluten-free and we all really love stuffing -- my mom's stuffing made with milk (gluten) crackers to be exact. We attempted to make hers with some gf crackers last year and there was something missing. Just yesterday however, my mom made an amazingly delicious wild rice stuffing that rivals her milk cracker stuffing. I couldn't get enough of it. She was kind enough to share with me her recipe and it's quite simple. I hope this makes an appearance for this year's Thanksgiving feast.

Mom's Wild Rice Stuffing in a Roasted Pumpkin (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 4 for dinner

1 sugar pumpkin with a hole cut on top and scooped of seeds

1 lb gluten-free breakfast sausage (if sausage is in a casing, remove casing and discard)
1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice blend (or just mix half brown rice/half wild rice)
2 eggs. whisked (optional)
1-2 teaspoons of Bell Seasonings
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a pan on medium heat, cook the sausage for a few minutes until lightly brown. Add the onion and cook with the sausage for another five minutes. Add the celery and cook another few minutes. Then, add the rice, two eggs and Bell Seasonings and salt and pepper to taste. Stuff in the pumpkin and place in a water bath in a casserole dish. Bake for one hour.

To serve simply scoop pumpkin with stuffing, or cut the pumpkin into slices and serve with stuffing on top.

And Henry wasn't sitting still long enough to take a picture of him with the food -- so Grandma gets to be in the shot again. She had never seen anyone stuff a pumpkin with stuffing and referred to it as "interesting" but still managed to gobble it up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Photo Phriday: Sneaky Henry

This is a photo of me and three of my girlfriends (all three are going to be in my wedding party - yay!) taken last Friday night at my place. If you follow the yellow arrows you will see Henry in the background attempting to steal pad thai off of my counter.

He's a sneaky little bugger.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hearty Potato Soup with Crumbled Turkey Bacon

And so it begins: the cold, rainy, raw New England weather made it's first showing of the season today with temperatures in the forties (and a wind chill of 35), cloudy skies and cold rain. On days like these I need comfort. I need food. I need... comfort food.

Chicken pot pie. Meatloaf. Roasted vegetables. They're all great, but they all take time and I have yet to attempt to make chicken pot pie gluten free. So I made a quick and simple potato soup and it certainly did the trick. Well, actually I made it last night because I knew the weather forecast for today would be a gloomy one. And what do you know -- it's already all gone.

Hearty Potato Soup with Crumbled Turkey Bacon (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves 2 as a meal

8 baby red bliss potatoes (or four small white potatoes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 slices of turkey bacon
1 cup of soured almond milk (one cup of almond milk mixed with 1 tablespoon of vinegar, let sit for five minutes -- or use buttermilk)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock

Add the tablespoon of cornstarch to the almond milk mixture and let sit. Cut the potatoes into small, bite-size pieces and microwave in a bowl for ten minutes, stirring halfway through (you could boil the potatoes if you don't have a microwave). Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan, add the olive oil and the turkey bacon (the turkey bacon I buy has very little fat on it, so it requires the olive oil). Fry until crispy and remove from pan. Add the onion to the now bacon flavored olive oil and cook for at least five minutes. Then, add the mostly cooked potatoes to the pan and combine with the onions. Take a potato masher and mash the potatoes in the pan. Then, add the soured almond milk/cornstach mixture and stock. If it is too thick, add more stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Serve warm and crumble the turkey bacon on top.

Poor Henry didn't even have a chance of getting a bite (there are onions in it after all).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Grandma's Stuffed Cabbage

The afternoon of cooking stuffed cabbage with my nintey-five year old Grandmother began with a request from her: "Do me a favor and taste the meat. I can't tell if it needs more salt." The meat she was referring to was two and a half pounds of raw ground beef sitting in a bowl on the kicthen table. So I asked her, "You want me to taste the raw meat?" And she replied "yes." There's a lot that I would do for my Grandmother, in fact, anything if it's what she needed, but eating raw ground beef to test it's salt content wasn't something I was willing to risk, so I told her I thought it might upset my sensitive stomach and that was good enough for her.

Grandma comes from a different time, a time apparently, when eating raw meat was okay: she was born in 1913 and grew up with four older brothers who were all born in Lithuania -- she was the only one in the family born in the U.S. Needless to say, the majority of her cooking is Lithuanian, but it can really be lumped into the Eastern European category: stuffed cabbage, kugeli, kushlanah (I'm spelling phonetically here on the last one -- it's gelled brains of some sort and my mother and grandmother are the only people I know who eat it). It's not pretty, delicate food -- but it sure is hearty and tasty (well, except for the brains one).

Grandma's Stuffed Cabbage (gluten-free, dairy-free)

serves six people

2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 head of cabbage
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 potatoes, cubed (any kind will do)
3 large carrots, cut into chunks
5 cups tomato sauce

Add the whole cabbage to a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender, about ten minutes. Be careful when taking the cabbage out and let cool another ten minutes before handling. Peel each leaf of cabbage off and set aside. Mis the rice with the beef in a bowl and season with salt and pepper (but please don't taste at this phase like Grandma).

Next, add about two tablespoons of meat per leaf of cooked cabbage and roll like a burrito. Place in a casserole dish, add the potatoes and carrots on top and cover well with tomato sauce. Cook for one hour at 350 degrees.

Although our recent batch wasn't "her best" she stated (but really, she says that about everything), she still ate like a good eatah.

And it was perfectly salty.

Coming soon, Henry and Elsa's French Apple Pie...