Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cooking during the Twin Cities Minnesota Blizzard of December 11, 2010

 Slept late, got up and peeked outside…..Blizzard!!!!   Time to make soup and bake bread……..

Well, I didn’t bake the loaf of bread that I had planned, but I made some really good Spicy Salsa Corn Muffins.
I was making them from memory, so I substituted butter milk for the sour cream. It all depends on what ingredients I have on hand. One half of the jar of salsa is used in the soup and the other half in the muffins.

Getting ready to mix everything
All mixed up

Be sure to spray your muffin pan!
Ready for the oven – this is a large muffin cup pan, couldn’t find the regular cup pan. Don’t you hate it when you can’t find a pan you need?


My Vegetarian Spicy Bean Chili will warm you up while your SA or DH sing “Baby it's cold outside ...”.

Of course, I made a smaller batch and made some modifications. The original recipe is for a large batch and great for potluck.

The modified version - it’s a little spicy and just warns the body up
Vegetarian Spicy Bean Chili – 4 to 5 servings
Soup Ingredients

• 1/2 16 oz jar La Victoria Cilantro Salsa, medium (use the other half to make the Salsa Muffins)
• 1 4.5 oz can Old El Paso chopped green chiles
• 1 15-ounce can V8 - low sodium
• 1 Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes (with peppers, onions, etc)
• 1 14 1/2 oz can Del Monte Organic Diced Tomatoes
• 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 15.8-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 16-ounce can Dark Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 cup water
Spices - mix the following in a small container
• 1/2 tsp Cumin, Ground
• 1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
• 1 tsp sodium-free Jamaican seasoning
• 1 tsp Louisiana style Cajun spice
• 1 tsp Spanish paprika
• 1 Tbsp chili powder
• 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
• 1 Tbsp dehydrated onion
• 1 tbsp Mrs Dash Garlic mix

• 2 tsp sugar
• 1 Tbsp molasses
• 1/2 Tbsp ginger, powdered
• Additional Cajun spice as desired
Get you 8-quart slow cooker and place on the surface where it will be used
Gather all of the ingredients onto kitchen counter

Mix the spices and set aside
Open all of the cans of beans, rinsing each one and putting in a colander for draining. It has been reported that draining alone reduces sodium by 36% while draining-rinsing reduced sodium by 41%. Once all beans are in the colander, mix them up. Pour the beans into the slow cooker.

Add the ginger, molasses (sugar) to the slow cooker
Open the tomatoes and drain the liquid into a container and set aside
Pour the drained tomatoes into the food processor.  Add the spice mix, to the tomatoes

Pulse the tomatoes a couple of times in a food processor, so they have the consistency of salsa.

Put the salsa, chilies and tomatoes in the slow cooker, stir using a wooden spoon.

Add the vegetable juice (V8) to the reserved tomato juice.
Mix it as much as possible and add this to the slow cooker. Stir the ingredients in the slow cooker.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and set the slow cooker on low. Meal should be ready in about 4 hours. Verify that your cooker is doing a slow simmer.
If you are available, stir it after 2 hours.
Enjoy!! It’s spicy

Servings: 4 large 6 med

Great for potluck or sharing. Serve with corn tortilla strips or corn bread  or Spicy Salsa Corn Muffins.
If you like the color, reduce the beans by color.
If you are timid on spice, use mild salsa instead of medium, drain the chilis.
The longer the pot simmers, the more thoroughly the spices go through the beans. I tend to leave this on low for about 6 hours. Simmer at least 4 hours.
If you plan to be away while this is cooking, place the slow cooker on a heat safe surface..

You will notice the color of the soup has black, brown, red and white beans. This is to give it color. If you like chunks of tomatoes, do not puree the tomatoes.

This was earlier in the day as the blizzard progressed

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harvest Bread (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

I am always on the lookout for a good gluten free bread recipe. I have tried several that came out "almost".

While reading the Living Without Facebook Page,I saw a post for a gluten free Boule bread. Several comments said that the attempt was not successful, so I decided to give it a try.  This bread has a very fine crumb.

At first, I cut the recipe in half. It was successful, so I decided to do the full recipe with a couple more modifications. I replaced part of the buckwheat flour with coconut flour. I added an additional 2 tablespoons of water.

There are a few rules for making gluten free bread (IMOHO)
  1. Accurate measurement - stir the flours and level off the measuring cup
  2. Beat the dough to add in air - do not use a dough hook.
  3. The yeast has to be very good - only one rising
  4. The flour mixture determines the outcome
  5. If you don't succeed at first, try, try again!
Harvest Bread (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Dry ingredients
2 cups white rice flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/8 cup coconut flour (modification)
1/4 cup buckwheat flour (modification)
1/2 tsp powdered ginger (modification)
1/2 tsp baking soda (modification)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup instant potato flakes (Potato Buds)
1 Tbsp xanthan gum or guar gum (xanthan)
Yeast and sugar
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
Wet ingredients
3 large eggs, room temperature (extra large)
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp water or prune juice, lukewarm (water)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (Omaggio Grapeseed oil)
2 Tbsp molasses or dark corn syrup (molasses, full flavor)

1. Gather all of the ingredients on the counter at least an hour before making the bread. This is to insure that any refrigerated items are at room temperature and that you have the ingredients to make the bread.
2. Lightly grease or spray with oil spray, the pan you will be baking the bread in.
3. Combine all of the dry ingredients except yeast and set aside. Measure the flours accurately, using a dinner knife to ‘level off’ the measuring cups. Shake or stir the flours before measuring as some may be packed, which would cause too much to be used.

4. Break the egg into a small bowl or dish, set aside. In separate clear measuring cups, measure the water and oil. Combine into one cup and add the molasses. Stir to blend, set aside. Measure out your brown sugar in a small container, set aside

5. Place the Dry Ingredient Mix into the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl that you can use a hand mixer. Set the stand mixer to STIR to mix the Dry Ingredients together, add in the brown sugar and stir until it is mixed in. Add in the yeast and continue stirring until mixed in.

6. While the mixer is stirring, add the eggs to the mixing bowl. Gradually add the water mixture. Continue stirring until all ingredients have come together. Change the mixer setting to start beating the dough. Continue for 2 minutes or until a stiff dough has formed.

7. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Use a wet spatula to smooth the top. Loosely cover and place in a warm place to allow it to rise to double.

 I chose to bake this time using a large loaf and  a small loaf pan. I also used my George Foreman combination counter top oven to let the bread rise. This works well during cold winter months. The timer is only for 30 minutes, so I had to watch and reset to keep a constant temperature of about 70 degrees for an hour. I covered the pans lightly with aluminum foil.

9. When the bread has risen at least 25%, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
10. When the dough has doubled, place pan in preheated oven and bake about 30 to 40 minutes or until done.

11. Turn loaf out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Maybe, I should have smoothed it a bit more….
It is really good!  I divided the dough into 1 large and one small loaf pan.  The small loaf came out of the oven a little sooner than it should have.  The only difference was the browning.  

For the entire recipe, I estimate 16 slices or servings.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/16 of a recipe. Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount per Serving
Calories 181.41
Total Fat 5.12g
Saturated Fat 0.85g
Cholesterol 44.42mg
Sodium 217.45mg
Potassium 135.49mg
Total Carbohydrates 30.02g
Fiber 2.35g
Sugar 3.38g
Protein 3.88g

Minor modifications were made to the original recipe. The original recipe was baked in a round pan, thus the name “Boule”.
*Ingredients used and substitutions are shown in parentheses and where noted.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prize winning recipe - Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies (GF)

Chocolate, Chocolate, oh Chocolate, you are calling my name……….

When you love chocolate as much as I do, you have to find a way to enjoy it with all of the calories. I created this recipe for several reasons. One sister is allergic to peanuts. I am intolerant to wheat. A friend said all of my desserts weren’t suitable for diabetics. So I thought about how to try to make something all of us could eat.

The attempt was to make it as simple as possible, so that anyone could make it with common ingredients. Although black cocoa isn’t common to most, Hershey’s Special Dark can be used for the entire recipe. Oat flour can be ground from oats in a good food processor and sifted using a fine sieve to get the same consistency as purchased oat flour.

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies (GF) Reduced sugar, gluten-free, peanut-free chocolate cookie


Wet Ingredients
1 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T honey
1/4 cup lite sour cream

Dry Ingredients
3/4 cups oat flour
1 T arrowroot starch
3 T dark cocoa (used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 T black cocoa (used King Arthur Flour black)
1 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup old fashioned oats (pulsed to consistency of quick oats or coarse oat flour)

Add In
3 T or enough white chocolate chips to insert 3 chips in each cookie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream the first 6 ingredients with an electric mixer until fluffy (well mixed).

Combine dry ingredients and sift together to remove any cocoa lumps. Add the oats from the food processor.

 Use a wire whisk to combine.

Gradually add to wet ingredients. Mixture will be stiff and possibly slightly crumbly due to differences in nut butter

Shape dough into 30 balls, inserting 3 white chocolate chips into the center of the ball.
Gloved hands work well for this task

If you plan to freeze the cookies, place in a single layer on a sturdy wax or parchment paper covered flat container. Cover with cellophane wrap and freeze. Once frozen, move balls to zippered freezer bag. Return to freezer. Use within 2 months.

To bake, place each ball on a parchment covered baking sheet. Flatten to about 1/2 inch. The cookie spreads very little.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees F

Remove from oven and allow cooling about 1 minute on cookie sheet before moving to another cool cookie sheet to finish cooling. Cookies will be a little brittle before cooling. Serve plain or drizzle white frosting over.

Yield: 30 cookies
Servings: 30
Nutrition Facts: Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount per serving
Calories 82.62
Total Fat 6.09g
Saturated Fat 0.98g
Cholesterol 7.84mg
Sodium 83.07mg
Potassium 93.26mg
Total Carbohydrates 6.13g
Fiber 0.99g
Sugar 1.1g
Protein 2.21g

Variation: Instead of the white chips, use mini chocolate chips mixed into the dough.
Sugar equivalency: 1/2 cup granulated + 1/2 cup brown
Extract substitution: Vanilla powder can be substituted at 1/2 the extract, as it has a more intense flavor. Powdered vanilla works well in gluten free baking due to the bland nature of most flours.
Tools: It is wise to use a wooden spoon or gloved hands to thoroughly mix dough.


I submitted the recipe (Print Friendly copy) and won the 2009 Creative Christmas Cookie Bake-Off Contest.

It is also featured in the Fall/Winter 2010 Mixing Bowl Magazine, page 85

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sweet Potato Butternut Squash and Raisins Breakfast Bread

It is now Fall. It is time to hide under the heavy sweaters and jeans. Fall brings about the best tasting fruits and vegetables. Sweet potatoes, sweet pumpkins and sweet squash all are just waiting to be made into dessert or a meal!

When it comes to pies, I prefer pumpkin because they aren’t as sweet as sweet potato pie. I would rather eat sweet potatoes baked or used in biscuits or quick bread. I have all kinds of visions floating around about things to make with the new crop of sweet potatoes, pumpkins and sweet squash!

This one is a favorite of mine. It can be made with a combination of butternut squash and sweet potatoes or just sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Butternut Squash and Raisins Breakfast Bread

Fragrant gluten free breakfast bread filled with some of the late Summer Harvest

Dry Ingredients
1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cups white rice flour
5 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp arrowroot starch
1/4 cup millet flour
1 tsp xanthan or guar gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients
1 cup cooked butternut squash
1 cup cooked sweet potatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
4 oz butter
2 large eggs
Add Ins
3 oz raisins, chopped
1 Tbsp Turbinado sugar

Gather all of the ingredients

1. Combine all dry ingredients into a container and shake to mix thoroughly. Set aside
2. Chop the raisins with the Turbinado sugar, to keep them from clumping. Set aside
3. Puree the squash and potatoes in a food processor with the spices. Scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and eggs and mix until creamy.

4. Fold in the dry ingredients alternating with the raisins, Do not over mix.

5. Divide into four small loaf pans or 2 small and one medium pan.

6. Bake small pans 28 to 30 minutes, medium pan 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
7. Place pans on second rack from bottom of oven for on-half of baking time, moving up one rack, half-way thru. Test for doneness with a toothpick within 5 minutes of final cooking time for each pan size.

8. Remove from oven, turn out onto cooling rack. Serve warm or cold.

Servings: 12
Yield: Makes 4 small loaves or 2 small and 1 medium loaf

Oven Temperature: 350°F
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/12 of a recipe
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount per Serving
Calories 276.86
Total Fat 9.22g
Saturated Fat 5.24g
Cholesterol 55.59mg
Sodium 197.48mg
Potassium 188.68mg
Total Carbohydrates 46.76g
Fiber 2g
Sugar 16.88g
Protein 4.1g

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 2010 Recipe Challenge -

Quinoa is the challenge ingredient for September.

It is so easy to make a dish with the whole grain because it really has no taste of its own.

For my meal, I planned to have quinoa seasoned with garlic and sweet red peppers, mixed with black beans over a grilled Portobello cap. My side dish would be Brown Sugar Baked Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash.

There is really no recipe, per se.

To prepare the quinoa

Measure 1 cup tan quinoa into a wire strainer and wash under running water for about a minute. Drain and set aside to finish draining as much water as possible.
Heat a large iron skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil.
Add in 5 garlic gloves, 1/2 sliced, chopped sweet red pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of minced ginger (fresh or jarred)
Sauté until the garlic is soft (or use pre-prepared garlic in oil)

Stir in the quinoa, turn heat to high and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the quinoa starts to change to a golden color.

Add in 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock and 1 cup hot water.
Stir to move all of the grain down into the liquid.

When the mixture is bubbling, turn heat to low and place a cover on skillet. Let it cook undisturbed for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, open a can of black beans, dump in the same wire strainer as used for the quinoa (after you have rinsed out the strainer) and rinse under water until all foam disappears. It will be quicker, it beans are placed in a bowl or container with water then poured into the strainer.

When quinoa is finished cooking, add in beans and stir with a fork to prevent smashing the grain.

Portobello Caps

I prepared these the day before. Just spray 4 Portobello caps with olive oil and grill on a ‘George Foreman’ type grill or an iron skillet until done.

Brown Sugar Baked Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash.

This is an existing recipe, find it here: Brown Sugar Baked Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash.
Makes 4 meals

So, what exactly is quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is a seed originally grown in South and Central America, with some of the crop now grown in Canada. Quinoa has a high protein value; complete with all eight of the essential amino acids needed for tissue development in humans.

Quinoa is a protein rich grain which is also high in unsaturated fat and lower in carbohydrates than most grains. It may be used in any dish in place of rice or similar grains.

Though it’s not technically a grain (it is a seed from a leafy plant), quinoa can be substituted for grains in cooking (like rice or couscous). Quinoa is rich in protein, iron, potassium, a good source of fiber, and is easily digested.

Called the Mother Grain by the Incans, this grain was a staple in the diet of that civilization. Quinoa is coated with saponin and must be thoroughly rinsed before it is cooked. Some brands have already been rinsed, but to be on the safe side, always rinse it!