Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Simple Balsamic Potato Salad

So politely he sits -- quietly waiting for a bite, just a taste of the food before him. But yet again, Mr. Nibbles (his nickname because he likes to "nibble" on things, including my fingers at times) cannot eat what I have made. Onions, you see, are another big no-no in the diet of dogs (macadamia nuts are too, I learned). Besides, he has a kosher hot dog waiting to be cut up in his dinner tonight; his most favorite treat. (fyi dog owners: my dog trainer suggested you microwave the hell out of hot dogs until they get rubbery to make a very good training treat)

Back to the potato salad. My mom makes the most amazing balsamic potato salad. I love it. I crave it. I need it sometimes, which reminds me of a very funny story. Apparently when I was little my parents kept some chocolate bars on the top of the refridgerator that I noticed one time when my dad was giving me a piggy back ride. Well, using my curly blonde locks and little kid lisp to my advantage, apparently I told him that I neeeeeeeeeeeed chocolate. And I got it. Before dinner. Score! And so began my chocolate addiction.

Ok, back to the pototo salad, really I swear. In my opinion this potato salad is best when served chilled. It's a nice break from your typical mayo-based potato salads and it's gluten, dairy and soy free and vegan! And, if you plate it nicely it can pass as something super-classy. This isn't my mother's recipe though, I could have called her and she would have given it to me in a second, but I didn't, so here is mine.

Balsamic Potato Salad gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan

28 ounces (or 1.75 lbs) of baby yukon gold potatoes (you can use normal sized ones here, just cut into small pieces)
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup, divided
chopped fresh parsley, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook until slightly tender, about fifteen minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool. Once that is done, cut the potatoes into fourths and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pan on medium heat add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the sliced onions and cook over medium to medium-low heat for at least twenty minutes, or until carmelized. Once the onions have turned a golden brown color, add the balsamic vinegar and cook for another five minutes, then add the rest of the olive oil and cook for another few minutes. Next, add your potatoes to the onion mixture, stirring to coat evenly and place in a large bowl, then add the chopped parsley. Salt and pepper to taste and add more balsamic vinegar if you would like. Keep in the refridgerator until chilled and serve.

Enjoy! They're even better the next day.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where I've Been & Double Chocolate Cookies

My apologies for the lack of posts this past week, but I have good reason -- I swear! I spent the last ten days in North Carolina soaking up some quality vacation time with my love, the A-man. We went sky-diving, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, played some tennis.... oh yeah, and WE GOT ENGAGED! I don't like to brag, but his proposal was pretty darn amazing. He organized a "surprise" sky-diving trip (he jumped solo, I jumped tandem) and right before he exited the plane he yelled "Lizzie!", peeled off some tape he had on his helmet to reveal the words "Will you marry me?" and jumped 5,500 feet (which is really low and an entirely different story) to the ground. I was in total shock, so I didn't answer right away, but once we both landed he got on one knee, presented a gorgeous ring and asked me again. I managed to mutter a yes and gave him a really long, teary-eyed hug. All of this was apparently caught on camera; I can't wait to see it.

The hat I'm wearing in the photo above actually says "bride" on it in sparkly, gold lettering and was given to me by my sister (as a joke) when she found it in the dollar bin in target. Showing off the ring isn't really my style, but it really is quite gorgeous. Since we have never discussed rings before, I have no idea how the A-man chose the perfect ring for me (actually, I think my sister helped quite a bit) but I know he put a lot of research and effort into it, so in addition to me wearing it the rest of my life, I thought it deserves a feature photo (with some gluten-free, dairy-free double chocolate cookies) in my blog.

What's really cool about the ring is that it's a conflict-free diamond from Canada and it's in an "active" setting, which means I won't clumsily snag it on things. So, the past week or so has been amazing and life-changing. It's a pretty wonderful thing to talk about the future with the man you love for a week straight and bask in the afterglow of being asked for your hand in marriage. The real frosting on the gluten-free cake? Knowing this is only the beginning.

Oh, and a recipe! My family is so extremely supportive of our relationship, they love him just as much as I do, so in order to celebrate when I got home, my parents, sister, brother-in-law and niece picked me up at the airport with flowers and gifts and had a wonderful gluten-free, dairy-free dinner that ended with what will now be called "Double Chocolate Engagement Cookies" created by my sister. It's pretty difficult to describe how good these cookies are, so I'll use the Boston phrase for awesome: they're wicked pissah.

Double Chocolate Cookies (aka Engagement Cookies) gluten-free, dairy-free

*adapted from Annalise Roberts chocolate chip cookie recipe

1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (make sure it's gluten-free)
1 1/2 cup, plus two tablespoons of gluten free flour mix (she uses a superfine brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch mix)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 ozs. vegan, gluten-free good quality chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Beat shortening and sugars at medium speed in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add flour, baking soda, xantham gum and salt and mix at medium until well blended. Mix in chocolate chunks by hand.

Drop heaping teaspoons of the dough onto a greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in the center of the oven 8-10 minutes.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Video Phriday

This video was shot last summer; it's of my boyfriend trying to coax my parents dog, Elsa into the pool with chicken. He's the hunky one in the pool and I'm the pale one watching.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Zucchini Carrot Bread and Muffins

Oh Henry -- always sneaking into my photos.

I had this really strange urge to bake zucchini bread last night. It's really strange because I'm normally a morning baker: I wake up, let the dog out, and get cooking. Last night however, I was raring to go. It could have been the two glasses of wine in me, or the fact that I was procrastinating from packing for my trip, but at 10:30pm I started the bread, and before midnight I was enjoying some warm, moist zucchini carrot goodness.

This stuff is tasty; a little too tasty because I managed to have probably 3 muffin's worth already. But it's okay. I had a long workout today -- I'll just keep telling myself that. With this recipe, I tried to replicate zucchini cupcakes that my Mom makes; hers are topped with a cream cheese frosting so I certainly can't compete with that, but take it for what it is -- a quick bread. These hit the spot.

I used my favorite gluten-free flour mix which is made up of superfine brown rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch and one cup of sorghum flour to add a bit more nutrition to the bread. I imagine millet flour would work well too in place of the sorghum flour. Most people associate walnuts with zucchini breads, but I only had a half of cup on hand, so I used pecans too, which turned out nicely. I have a mix of sweeteners (brown sugar, vanilla sugar and agave) in this recipe too. I hope to play around with this in the future and try only brown rice syrup, or only agave to cut back on the refined sugar.

Zucchini Carrot Bread/Muffins

1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread (dairy-free) or butter if you can have it
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons agave nectar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini and carrot (2 zucchini and 2 small carrots; wringed of water with a towel)
2 cups gluten free flour mix
1 cup sorghum flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 335 degrees.

Grease and flour (I used rice flour) 2 loaf pans, or 1 loaf pan and 6 muffin tins.

Mix the Earth Balance (or butter) in a mixer until creamy. Add the sugars and agave and mix until combined. Next, add the eggs, one at a time. Then, add the vanilla. Lastly, mix in the zucchini carrot mixture by hand until combined.

In another bowl, add the all of the flour, baking soda, baking powder, xantham gum, salt and cinnamon and whisk until all of the dry ingredients are combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until you have a thick batter, then fold in the nuts.

Pour into loaf pan, or muffin tins. I baked the loaf for about forty-five minutes and the muffins only took about twenty minutes. Keep an eye on these, as baked goods with agave can look "toasted" quite quickly.

To keep moist, store loaf and muffins in plastic or glass containers in the refridgerator.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Two Thumb's Up: Elana's Cupcakes

Bad Henry. Chocolate is a big no-no for dogs, but luckily, not for me.

I'm going to be missing Mother's Day this year because I'll be on vacation with the boyfriend for a week, so I threw an early Mother's Day dinner this past weekend for my grandma, mom and sister. The dinner consisted of ham, Spanish tortilla, radish cole slaw and biscuits. But I needed a dessert! And I needed it to be gluten-free, dairy-free and light on the refined sugar. Luckily, Elana's Pantry came to the rescue.

If you haven't visited her blog, I highly recommend it. Not only does she live in one of the coolest places on Earth: Boulder, Colorado, but she has a clear, easy-to-follow blog with beautiful photos and tasty recipes. She cooks and bakes gluten-free, dairy-free and tends to work with high protein flours. I also have yet to see a recipe of hers that calls for sugar.

Now on to the cupcakes. These little gems rock; it's as simple as that. The cupcake itself is moist and has a nice hint of vanilla and undertone of coconut. The frosting was rich and amazing. I had to test out a cupcake before serving them to my family of course and the only way I can describe my first bite, which was the perfect amount of chocolate paired with a moist vanilla cupcake? Gosh darn delectible (and gluten, dairy, and soy-free).

You can find her recipe for the cupcake here and the recipe for her frosting here.

Note: I did not have celtic sea salt, so I used regular sea salt instead. I also did not have Dagoba choco drops, so I used Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

(Spanish) Tortilla

Back in college, er high school, er I forget when it actually was. But back in the day my parents, sister and I spent a family vacation in Spain, or "Espain" as they say it there. I remember it being pretty cool and liking the architecture in Barcelona and the history in Madrid. And I remember my sister flipping the bird to a group of men who were making cat calls at us and my Dad yelling "corupcio!" to a cab driver whom he thought was scamming us. And I also remember the tapas. Ooooooh the tapas. The Spanish meal which is not quite lunch and not quite dinner, but just quite perfect. Small, little plates of food meant to be shared. Looking back, a lot of the dishes were probably gluten-free -- including this little gem which I whipped up for a pre-Mother's Day meal for the fam.

(Spanish) Tortilla (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

2 lbs potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
8 eggs
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large non-stick skillet on medium-low heat. Then, add the onion and potatoes and saute slowly for about twenty minutes until the potatoes are slightly tender. Meanwhile, mix the eggs until throughly combined, add salt and pepper and then add to the pan. Cook the egg/potato mixture until the eggs are set -- about ten minutes. While the eggs are cooking, pre-heat your oven to broil and set place the skillet in the broiler for another ten minutes, or until lightly brown.

Let cool slightly before serving, or chill and serve cold.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Photo Phriday

This is me and Henry and Henry's new backpack. He is the epitome of high-energy, so this backpack is great for him to wear when we go on runs and hikes. It's the perfect size for a couple of water bottles, a bag full of gluten-free, dairy-free snacks for me and some dog treats for him.

I highly recommend a doggie backpack for pet owners with high energy dogs.