Monthly Archives: January 2010

Banana Pudding with Gluten-Free Graham Crackers

Remember those wonderful gluten-free graham crackers I mentioned the other day? They were so good, so perfectly crisp and just lightly sweet. As if by magic, I just knew what I would do with the rest of them. It was high time I made banana pudding.

For those of you that are not from the Southern portion of the United States, banana pudding may not seem like a big deal. But for those of us that are from the South, banana pudding speaks to our hearts. Banana pudding is something your mom, your grandmother, or your aunt always made. (Or in my case, growing up with parents that were not from the South – it was something other people’s grandmother’s and Babe’s Chicken Dinner House made.) Creamy, with those Nabisco Nilla Wafers and bananas, often topped with whipped cream or meringue, this is the comfort dessert. I’ve had countless variations of banana pudding before my gluten-free days, but the ones made with real pudding (not the stuff from a box) were always the best. And yet, for some strange reason, I’d never tried to make it myself. It was time to change all of that.

Now, I wonder why it took me so long to make it. Pudding is easy. It takes just a few minutes of standing over a saucepan, stirring, and then into the fridge it goes. The graham crackers were a perfect compliment – with their almost molasses-y flavor and a light, crispy texture, they blended beautifully with the rich, creamy feel of the pudding. It was truly comforting and decadent at the same time. The worst part? My husband is not really a sweets person. Guess who had to eat the pudding? (me) So I warn you, make this when you have people to eat it. Save yourself from the temptation!

Banana Pudding with Gluten-Free Graham Crackers

2 T sweet rice flour

½ c agave nectar

2 eggs

2 c milk

2 T butter

1 t vanilla extract

3 bananas, sliced

7-8 gluten-free graham crackers, broken into 2-inch pieces (save some for crumbling on top) – you could also substitute any gluten-free cookie you like

In a medium saucepan, add rice flour, agave nectar, and eggs, and whisk together. Pour in milk slowly, whisking, until milk is incorporated. Turn heat on medium-low and cook for 10 minutes or so, whisking, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add butter and vanilla extract and remove from heat.

Layer an 8X8 inch glass dish (or similarly-sized dish) with graham crackers, and then a layer of bananas. Spoon some pudding over to cover. Add another layer of crackers and bananas and repeat. Top with a few remaining slices of banana and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4-5 hours or up to overnight.

When ready to serve, crumble graham crackers and top pudding with crumbs.

Serves 4-6.

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy

Daring Bakers: Nanaimo Bars

I was so excited to find out that Lauren of Celiac Teen was hosting this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. Lauren always amazes me with her skills in the kitchen – I was just barely understanding the concept of cooking at her age! And to have a Daring Bakers challenge that I didn’t have to convert to gluten-free? Well, that made things a million times easier!

I’d never heard of Nanaimo Bars before this challenge. But now that I’m in the loop, I’m definitely making these again, with one requirement: that there other people are around to eat them all for me. These babies were SO good. But they were also SO bad, calling me from the fridge at all hours, begging me to have just one more. And I caved, too many times. With a graham cracker-almond-coconut-chocolate layer, a creamy vanilla layer, and another chocolate layer, who could resist?

I followed Lauren’s recipe rather closely, only substituting 1% milk for whole milk in the graham crackers. (I just don’t usually stock whole milk.) Those crackers were better than any gluten-containing ones I’d ever had - I munched on a few, and even used some for banana pudding (recipe to come soon!). And for the purpose of making graham cracker crumbs for these bars, they were excellent. I think that in the future, I’d love to try to make these with a mint filling in the middle layer. But honestly, they were amazing just as is.

Gluten-Free Graham Crackers, adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 c sweet rice flour

3/4 c tapioca starch/flour

1/2 c sorghum flour

1 c dark brown sugar, lightly packed

1 t baking soda

3/4 t kosher salt

7 T unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen

1/3 c honey

5 T milk

2 T vanilla extract

In a bowl of a food processor, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal and you can no longer see chunks of butter.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be soft and sticky.

Turn the dough onto a a surface well-dusted with rice flour. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. (I did this on top of some plastic wrap) Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well-chilled, 2 hours or overnight.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto a work surface and roll the doughinto a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour is necessary. Cut into 4X4 inch squares. Repeat with remaining dough and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Adjust the rachs in the oven to the upper and lower thirds and preheat to 350 degrees. Prick the wafers with a toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows. (I forgot to do this, but they still came out fine.) Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Cool completely.

To make crumbs – place wafers in a food processor and pulse until crumbs, or place in a large ziploc bag, force all the air out and smash with a rolling pin.

Nanaimo Bars, adapted from City of Nanaimo

Bottom Layer

1/2 c unsalted butter

1/4 c sugar

5 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 large egg, beaten

1 1/4 c gluten-free graham cracker crumbs

1/2 c almonds, finely chopped

1 c shredded coconut

Middle Layer

1/2 c unsalted butter

2 T plus 2 t heavy cream

2 T vanilla custard power (such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted – I did this.)

2 c powdered sugar

Top Layer

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate

2 T unsalted butter

For the bottom layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar, and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts, and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8X8 inch pan.

For the middle layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and powdered sugar together well. Beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer.

For the top layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. (Cool to room temperature. If you don’t, your top layer will swirl in with the middle layer.) Spread over middle layer and chill.until firm. Cut into squares.

Makes about 16 squares.

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Filed under Baked goods, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Raisins, and Walnuts

Are you still following through on that New Year’s resolution? You know the one you made, promising yourself that you’ll eat healthier (More fiber? More veggies? Less meat?) in 2010? If it has been a bit of a struggle, or even if you’re still on board, but you’re sick and tired of the lettuce-based salads, smoothies, and the like, check out quinoa.

Quinoa is a tiny seed that acts like a grain. But it’s more than just another grain. Quinoa is packed with healthy fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. It’s nutty in flavor, and will fill you up, leaving you satisfied. It’s gluten-free, so for those of us that have to stay away from gluten, this seed makes a perfect stand-in for recipes that call for bulgur or couscous. I personally love it – it cooks up in 15 minutes, and absorbs flavors and dressings without getting mushy, making it perfect for a salad such as this.

What’s wonderful about this salad? You can throw in pretty much anything you want. Really. I stood in my kitchen last night, deciding what easy-to-make, easy-on-the-tummy meal I wanted to throw together. This salad literally originated from leftovers and pantry staples. Substitutions are simple – I can imagine dried cranberries in place of the currants and raisins, almonds or pine nuts in place of the walnuts, or fresh spinach, kale, or chard in place of the frozen spinach used here. Really, it’s all about you, and choosing a mixture of ingredients that will satisfy, and keep you on that road to eating healthier.

Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Raisins, and Walnuts

1 T olive oil

2 T minced red onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 c quinoa, rinsed (rinsing is to remove the bitterness from the seeds)

1 ½ T golden raisins

1 ½ T dried currants

1 2/3 c water

1 c frozen chopped spinach, thawed

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

¼ c toasted chopped walnuts

2 T chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 T good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

3 oz feta or goat cheese

 In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add the quinoa and continue to sauté for another minute or so. Add the raisins, currants and water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until water is nearly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and cover again and let cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, walnuts, and parsley. Season generously to taste. Drizzle olive oil over and stir in. Serve chilled or at room temperature, topped with a bit of feta.

 Serves 4.

53 Comments

Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Salads, Vegetarian

Simple Cabbage Soup (and winner of the giveaway!)

I have a confession to make. It might come as a surprise to some of you. After all, there are many flashier, sexier, and more impressive foods out there in the world.

You ready?

Here goes.

 I love cabbage.

I really do. Many times, I forget that I love it, casting it aside for more colorful, fancier, more elegant vegetables. But when cabbage and I reunite, it’s like reconnecting with a long lost friend. There’s no small talk. There’s no false airs, and there’s no subtext. It’s just cabbage and me. And besides. Cabbage goes great with butter. How could you go wrong?

Of course, today’s recipe does not use butter. (I know what you’re thinking – Why are you teasing me? You mention butter, and now you’re withholding?) Honestly, you won’t miss it. This vegetarian (vegan if you omit the cheese) soup packs such flavor, such comfort, that it needs no buttery adornment. I love the somewhat-generous helping of Parmesan on top, but that’s it. This soup is happy just being its simple self, filling my belly.

Want to know another secret? Okay, this one’s not such a secret. This soup is cheap. Really cheap. Cabbage usually sells for 50 cents a pound (sometimes 33 cents a pound!) at the grocery. A bit more if you go organic, but still…it’s one of the cheapest vegetables out there. Same goes for potatoes, carrots, and onions. I opted for a can of white beans out of convenience, but if you really want to be economical, buy dried. I used homemade stock, so it was essentially “free”, but stock (or buillion) can be purchased for little. Even with premium Parmesan, this whole meal can be made for under $5. (It cost about $3 for me.) Take that, KFC Family Meal Challenge!

Now, to the giveaway! I am excited about this giveaway, honestly. The Where Delicious Meets Nutritious cookbook is a treat. I already use agave nectar in some recipes, but I was excited to learn more. I love to bake, and have been wanting to learn to bake using agave. The Xagave nectar is really great for baking – and this book pointed me in the right direction (with their delectable recipes!). I can’t wait to continue baking from it – and I hope the winner enjoys it as much as I have.

And the winner is… Kristen of Flexy Fare! If that’s you, please contact me with your mailing info. Congratulations!

 

Simple Cabbage Soup, adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 T olive oil

1 medium Yukon Gold potato (or other white potato), skin on, diced

1/2 large yellow onion, sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thinly

4 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1/2 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped

6 cups vegetable stock

1 15-0z can white beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans, such as navy)

1/2 medium cabbage, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch ribbons

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 c Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Place a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl around to heat. Once oil is shimmering, add potatoes. Cover and cook until they are a bit tender, and starting to brown a bit, about 5 minutes, stirring a few times during cooking. Stir in the onions and carrots and cook for another minute, and add in the garlic. Cook for an additional minute, and add the stock and the beans. Bring the stock to a simmer and stir in the cabbage. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until cabbage starts to become soft. Taste and add seasoning as needed. (This will vary depending on what kind of stock you used.) Serve with a good amount of Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Serves 4-6.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Quick and Easy, Soups, Vegetarian

Kids in the Kitchen: Breakfast Tacos (Taquitos)

This morning, my husband and I were awakened at 7 AM. The kids were awake already. For a Saturday, that’s pretty early. You see, Matt was excited about making breakfast this morning. We had agreed on starting at 9 AM, but by the noise eminating from the living room, he was obviously ready to go well before then. Breakfast tacos (Or taquitos, as they’re called in our house – why? I have no idea.) are Matt’s favorite breakfast treat, and I often make them on weekends. These babies trump any other imagined breakfast food, including donuts, coffee cakes, pancakes – I bet they’d even win over ice cream. When we modified Kids in the Kitchen to include breakfast, it was immediately Matt’s dream to make them.

Of course, the version of breakfast tacos enjoyed at our house are not authentic Mexican by any stretch. A straightforward mix of scrambled eggs, cheddar, and spicy pork sausage, wrapped in a tortilla (corn for me, but the kids prefer flour) – there’s nothing pretentious or complicated about this meal. But when you’re feeding hungry teenagers first thing in the morning while still trying to clear the cobwebs from your head, complicated is not what you need.

So after a mandatory cup of coffee (for me, not Matt), we started. In the pan went some slices of bacon, and Matt set to grating cheddar. (The hardest part of preparation – he groaned about the task!)  After the bacon was removed from the pan, things came together fairly quickly. We browned sausage and drained it, and scrambled the eggs along with the cheddar and sausage. Once the eggs were cooked through, we filled tortillas with the egg-cheese-sausage mixture and rolled them up. The kids could opt to slide a piece of bacon inside, or sprinkle it with Tabasco. I opted for a bit of cilantro. And just like always, there were no leftovers.

You can always change up the ingredients in breakfast tacos to your liking. I would love a vegetarian version – black beans, chopped tomato, and jalapenos, or another favorite – nopalitos con huevos. The beauty of a recipe like this is that there really is not a recipe – it’s so versatile and forgiving that you can throw in any combination of ingredients. My favorite kind of recipe!

Breakfast Tacos/Taquitos

8 oz pork sausage

12 eggs

1/4 c milk

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 c grated cheddar cheese

12 tortillas, warmed (I lightly toasted corn tortillas in a cast iron skillet)

Pan-fried bacon, for serving

Tabasco hot sauce, for serving

Cilantro leaves, for serving

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. If making bacon, go ahead and fry it now and set aside to drain on paper towels. Add the sausage into the pan and crumble with spatula. Brown sausage crumbles until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Remove and set on paper towels to drain. Scramble the eggs along with the milk; season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to medium-low and pour in the eggs. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add in the cheddar and sausage crumbles, and continue to cook, stirring fairly often, for about 6-8 minutes or until eggs are cooked through.

Fill tortillas with about 3-4 tablespoons of the egg mixture and fold over or roll up. Serve with bacon, Tabasco, and cilantro.

Serves 5-6.

Don’t Forget! There is still time to win some free Xagave nectar and the Where Delicious Meets Nutritious cookbook! Check it out here!

Also, check out Chocolate Covered Katie, she’s giving away a Vita-Mix!

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Filed under breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy

Daring Cooks: Pork Satay

This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was chosen by Cuppy of Cuppylicious. As a huge fan of Thai-inspired flavors, I was excited about this challenge. I’ve made satay before (using chicken thighs), but it was years ago. When this challenge was announced, I wondered to myself why it had been so long since satay made it on the menu. After all, marinated meat on a stick? Who can say no to that? (okay, well maybe vegetarians would, but Cuppy was generous enough to suggest tofu or veggie satay as an alternative.) Needless to say, we let our carnivorous nature take over on this occasion.

I opted to use a pork tenderloin for this dish. I don’t use pork nearly often enough. It’s relatively inexpensive, and the tenderloins are, well, tender, making for a quick weeknight meal option. In fact, I did just that – prepared the pork marinade one weeknight, and we enjoyed pork satay the following weeknight for dinner. It comes together fairly quickly. I did “cheat” and use the broiler instead of the grill. My excuse? It was about 20 degrees outside that evening and quite windy. For a Texan, that’s way too cold to stand out in front of the grill! The broiler did a mighty fine job, though, and we didn’t miss the grill one bit.

The verdict? Tasty enough for a party! Again, meat on a stick always goes over well, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a flavorful marinade and delightful dipping sauces! If I were to make this again, I might put slightly less cumin in my marinade (my ground cumin is pretty potent), but otherwise, it was wonderful! A big thanks to Cuppy for sharing this recipe – it’s definitely going to become a repeat in our household!

Pork Satay with Peanut and Pepper Dipping Sauce, adapted from 1000 Recipes by Martha Day

For the pork:

1/2 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 T ginger, chopped

2 T lemon juice

1 T gluten-free soy sauce

1 t ground coriander

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground turmeric

2 T vegetable oil

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut into strips (about 1 inch wide, 4-5 inches long)

Combine first nine ingredients in food processor, and pulse until well-chopped and combined. Place marinade and pork tenderloin pieces in a large ziploc bag, tossing pork to ensure each piece is coated. Place in refrigerator and marinate overnight.

Soak wooden skewers for 30 minutes in water before using. Preheat grill or broiler. Place pork on skewers. Broil or grill until meat just begins to char, about 6-8 minutes. Flip and grill or broil other side until cooked through, another 6 minutes or so. Serve with dipping sauces.

For the peanut sauce:

3/4 c coconut milk

4 T peanut butter

1 T lemon juice

1 T gluten-free soy sauce

1/2 t fish sauce

1 t agave nectar

1/2 t ground cumin

1/2 t ground coriander

1/2 t crushed red pepper

Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add soy sauce and lemon, mix well. Place a small saucepan over low heat. Add coconut milk, peanut butter, and soy sauce mixture. Mix well, and warm for 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Serve warm with pork.

For the pepper sauce:

4 T gluten-free soy sauce

1 T lemon juice

1 t agave nectar

1/2 t crushed red pepper

Mix well. Serve chilled or at room temperature with pork.

Don’t forget! If you haven’t entered yet for a chance to win some Xagave nectar and the Where Delicious Meets Nutritious cookbook, there’s still time! Check out the giveaway here!

30 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Pork, Quick and Easy

Jap Chae

A healthy, vegetarian/vegan, mouth-watering meal that’s easy to make? Not only easy to make, but speedy - so speedy, in fact, that it takes less time to make (from start to sitting down, slurping noodles) than it takes to heat up the oven and bake a frozen pizza? Do I have your attention yet? Because yes, it’s possible. Meet my favorite throw-together dish – Jap Chae.

What is Jap Chae? Well, I didn’t know for the longest time. Jaden over at Steamy Kitchen introduced me to Jap Chae. (say it with me: chop-chay.) Also spelled Jab Chae or Chap Chae, this is a Korean dish comprised traditionally of sweet potato (cellophane) noodles, mushrooms, spinach, carrots, and onions. I don’t have an extensive knowledge of Korean food, honestly. I do know, however, that my limited exposure has taught me to love Korean food! What makes this dish unique, in my opinion, are the noodles. If you happen to have an Asian grocery nearby, I encourage you to visit. Check out the noodles. Yes, it might be overwhelming – there are a LOT of noodles. For this particular dish, seek out some slightly gray-brown noodles called “glass noodles” or “cellophane noodles.” (They’re gluten-free, of course.) If you read the ingredients on the package, it’ll likely just read: sweet potato starch, water (and maybe salt). That’s it. Sounds simple enough, right? These noodles don’t taste anything like sweet potatoes – but their texture is addictive. They’re super-springy, light, and I love they way they absorb the sweet soy-sesame sauce in the jap chae. They never get soggy, either, making this dish perfect for leftovers!

I did take some liberties with the recipe (if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know this is nothing new). I added snow peas and red bell pepper (they were in the fridge), and I subbed agave nectar for the sugar. And as always, I used gluten-free soy sauce instead of regular soy. Other than that, I pretty much stuck to the recipe. (Oh – I did add a squirt of Sriracha to my bowl. Not authentic, I know, but I can’t resist a little heat with my salty-sweet-umami dishes!) This little throw-together dish is heaven in my book. The shitake mushrooms provide a huge burst of umami flavor, and I cannot resist sesame – sesame can cause me to swoon! And as I mentioned before, the noodles, with their springy texture, are such a joy to eat. It doesn’t hurt to know that this is a healthy, veggie-packed meal, either!

By the way, I’m not kidding about the speediness thing. The other day, my husband wanted a frozen pizza (Totino’s, so it doesn’t even take that long in the oven!), and I decided to make this dish (John’s not much for mushrooms, spinach, or Asian cuisine). He turned the oven on to preheat at the same time I was gathering ingredients. My jap chae was finished, in a bowl, and I had just started to dig in when the timer went off, telling him that his pizza was ready. Speedy dish indeed!

Jap Chae, adapted from Steamy Kitchen

1/2 lb dried Korean sweet potato noodles or mung bean thread

2 1/2 t sesame oil, divided

1 T canola oil

3/4 c thinly sliced onions

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks (I use my handy-dandy julienne peeler for this task)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t grated fresh ginger

2 stalks green onions, cut into 1 inch lengths

1/2 c dried shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced and rehydrated in warm water

1/2 c snow peas

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 lb spinach leaves, washed well and drained

2 T gluten-free soy sauce

1 T agave nectar

1 T sesame seeds

Fill a large pot with water and boil. When water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Immediately drain and rinse with cool water. Drain again and toss with 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil. Cut noodles into shorter pieces (I took Jaden’s advice and used kitchen shears for this task), about 8 inches in length. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix soy sauce and agave nectar together. Add canola oil in a wok or large saute pan on high heat. Swirl to coat pan. When oil is hot but not smoking, fry onions and carrots until softened, about 1 minute. Add garlic, green onions, and mushrooms, and cook for 30 seconds. Then add snow peas, bell pepper, spinach, soy sauce mixture, and the noodles. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until spinach is wilted and snow peas are a bit tender. Turn off heat, toss with sesame seeds and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil.

Serves 3-4. Or 2-3, if feeding hungry people. Wonderful eaten hot or cold.

 

Don’t Forget!!! You still have time to enter for a chance to win some free Xagave agave nectar and a cookbook, Where Delicious Meets Nutritious! Visit my post here to learn more about it!

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Pasta, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian