Monthly Archives: January 2010

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (and a Giveaway!)

Yes, you read that right! Gluten-free oatmeal raisin cookies. Once I had decided to make these, my heart warmed at the thought. Oatmeal raisin cookies were among my favorites as a kid. My mother loved to make cookies, and I fondly remember helping her, always stirring the dough in her big stainless steel bowl with her well-worn wooden spoon. (And yes, sampling the raw dough along the way…shhh, don’t tell anyone!) I haven’t had oatmeal raisin cookies since going gluten-free. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve had them in years. It was time.

But these cookies aren’t just ordinary oatmeal raisin cookies gone gluten-free. They’re even more than that. They’re also rich in whole grains – meaning lots of good-for-you fiber and protein – and they are sugar-free. Instead of sugar, agave nectar sweetens these babies. You see, the other day I was contacted by Xagave and asked if I would like to give their product a try. I like using agave nectar in recipes, and have been looking for more ways to incorporate it, so I figured, why not? They promptly sent me a bottle of Xagave nectar, along with a copy of their recipe book, Where Delicious Meets Nutritious. The box arrived shortly after Christmas – and as I always do when I receive new books, I immediately opened it to sift through the recipes.

This book has a load of wonderful recipes, both sweet and savory. It also discusses the benefits of using agave nectar, but what I found most helpful are some of the tricks/hints for baking with agave nectar they shared. This will save me countless hours of failed recipes! You do have to account for the fact that the recipes were engineered in an altitude higher than 3500 feet above sea level (for me, this means I must bake longer and at higher temps), but I adapted without issue.

Anyway, back to the cookies. I came across an oatmeal cookie recipe in the Where Delicious Meets Nutritious cookbook. Score! I would have to convert it to gluten-free, so I opted to substitute buckwheat and coconut flour for the whole wheat flour called for in the recipe. My gluten-free oats were rolled oats and not instant, as the recipe stated, but no matter – I’ve seen other oatmeal cookie recipes call for rolled oats, so I figured these would be just fine.

Let me tell you, after a long hiatus from oatmeal raisin cookies, these are more than fine. They were scrumptious. They were soft and pillowy when still warm (Yes, I couldn’t wait to have one!), but became chewy as they cooled – the way a good oatmeal cookie should. The cinnamon and vanilla softly flavor these cookies, and they put a smile on my face the way only the memories of a childhood cookie can.

The best part? These cookies are healthy enough that you actually could eat one for breakfast. (I’ll let you in on a little secret – for these past few days, that’s exactly what I’ve done, alongside my green smoothie, of course!)  Without all that sugar and refined flour, these cookies don’t cause a sugar high – or crash – after eating them. A definite bonus for me!

Okay, well, I said in the paragraph above that the option to have these for breakfast was the best part. That’s not entirely true. What’s the best BEST part? Xagave has generously allowed me to give one of my lucky readers the same gift they sent to me – a bottle of Xagave nectar, plus the Where Delicious Meets Nutritious cookbook. (This is when you exclaim “Hooray!”) In order to be entered in the giveaway, please leave me a comment below, letting me know what you would most like to make using agave nectar. The giveaway will be open until January 20, 2010. At that time, I’ll choose one random commenter using Please make sure to leave your email address in your comments, so I can contact you if you win.

Would you like to increase your chances to win?

Then in addition to leaving me the first comment, you can:

1. Tweet about this giveaway, and leave me an additional comment telling me you did so.

2. Mention this giveaway on your blog, and leave me a comment (and a link) telling me you did so.

3. Subscribe to my blog via email or reader, and leave me a comment telling me you did so. Or if you already subscribe, leave me a comment letting me know that, too.

This means you have the ability to enter 4 times. Sound good to you? I am curious as to what types of recipes you mention in your comments! I’m always looking for different sources of inspiration.

And now, just in case you thought I forgot, here is the recipe for gluten-free, sugar-free oatmeal raisin cookies.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, adapted from Delicious Meets Nutritious

1 c butter, softened

1 1/4 c agave nectar (I used Xagave)

2 eggs

1 T vanilla extract

1 c coconut flour

1 c buckwheat flour

1/2 t baking soda

1 t sea salt

1 1/2 t ground cinnamon

3 c gluten-free rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 c raisins

In a medium bowl, cream together butter, Xagave, eggs, and vanilla. (I opted to use a whisk to ensure everything was blended.) Combine flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in another bowl. Stir dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats and raisins. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop by spoonfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and flatten each cookie. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen.


Filed under Baked goods, breakfast, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Vegetarian

Pumpkin Molasses Bread

A few weeks ago, I won an awesome book, courtesy of Nosh With Me. This book arrived Christmas Eve, meaning I had a wonderful surprise Christmas present. That book was Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book. What a sweet Christmas present it was! This book is full of delectable recipes, most made with natural sweeteners, and all gluten-free. I was in heaven. Except that I couldn’t decide what to make first!

After the holidays were over, I decided it was time for me to bake. Yes, I realize how much of a backwards comment that is. My goal for baking right now, however, is to bake healthier. I want to have my cake and eat it too – without a lot of sugar or guilt. I decided upon the Pumpkin Glory Loaf recipe. But of course, I had to modify it, if ever so slightly. (Honestly, this time around, I would have stuck to the original recipe, except I didn’t have enough brown rice flour, and I didn’t wish to use all of my expensive maple syrup for this bread.) I opted to use some leftover kabocha squash puree I had in the freezer, which worked beautifully. Below is my take on the original recipe.

If you baked this up for friends and family, I promise, they would never know it was gluten-free. It’s moist, tender, and not-too-sweet. It makes the perfect breakfast treat with a cup of coffee, or afternoon snack with some herbal tea. Though it’s January, and most people have moved on from pumpkin recipes, I haven’t. But no worries, this isn’t overly “pumpkin-y”, in fact, the forward flavors are a mix of molasses, cinnamon, and clove – perfect for any winter day, in my opinion.

I can’t wait to try more of the Flying Apron’s recipes. But what to try next? Scones, biscuits, bread? So many choices!

Pumpkin Molasses Bread, adapted from Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book

1 c buckwheat flour

1 c brown rice flour

1 c white rice flour

1 3/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 t ground cinnamon

3/4 t ground cloves

1 c canola oil

1 c molasses (I used blackstrap)

3/4 c agave nectar

1 3/4 c pumpkin or squash puree (you could also use sweet potato)

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 c chopped toasted walnuts

1/2 c raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, molasses, agave nectar, pumpkin, and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture until well mixed, about 2-3 more minutes. Fold in the walnuts and raisins.

Line the bottom of two 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch loaf pans or one 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper, or grease and dust with rice flour. Pour in the batter.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 1 hour before serving.


Filed under Baked goods, breakfast, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Vegetarian

Kids In The Kitchen: Seafood Gumbo

Brandan immediately decided he wanted to make squid for his turn in the kitchen. Squid? Okay, but I have little experience with squid. I suggested calamari, but he wasn’t interested. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so we simply started to google “squid recipes”. I came across a gumbo recipe, and before I even read through it, he really wanted to make gumbo with squid. The decision was made. Only then did I thoroughly read through the recipe, and decided it was not a good recipe to follow. And then I started wondering whether squid was ever used in gumbo in the first place – I can’t think of a single Cajun or Creole dish that uses squid. I would have to improvise to make this work.

I have not made many gumbos in my life. There is one gumbo that is routinely made in our household – Emeril Lagasse’s Turkey Gumbo Ya-Ya. It’s awesome. And it’s not something I usually make – this is my husband’s signature dish, made only around the holidays. But I figured, if Emeril has come through for us in this dish, and others, such as my Shrimp Etouffee, why not here? I found a Seafood Gumbo recipe, and started from there, changing it up to accomodate a gluten-free diet, to include squid, and to simplify it somewhat, so that a 13-year-old boy could tackle it. (Gumbo is a long process!)

It was a success – even Brittany, who upon seeing the squid uttered “Eww, gross!”, loved her gumbo. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend squid in a gumbo, as it doesn’t really add much to the dish (the flavor of squid is subtle, and was somewhat lost in the heat of the gumbo broth), it certainly didn’t detract from it either.  Adding it at the last minute rendered the squid tender, not rubbery – a fear I had when composing this dish. Brandan, of course, had two bowlfuls. We might consider keeping a version of this dish on the menu, sans the squid and expensive crab. I imagine a cheaper, but no less delicious, version could include some smoked sausage or andouille, plus double the shrimp. Regardless of the proteins included, this was a filling and warming dish.

Now, I promise you, the next post will not be a soup. I am beginning to feel like this blog should be re-named “Tasty Soups At Home.” Perhaps a bit of variety is needed, no?


Seafood Gumbo, adapted from Emeril Lagasse

1/2 c canola oil

¼ c sorghum flour

¼ c sweet rice flour

2 stalks celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 c white wine

4 cups vegetable broth

1 8-oz bottle clam juice

1 bay leaf

¼ t dried thyme

½ -1 T salt

½ t cayenne pepper

2 t Worcestershire sauce

1 lb frozen shrimp

1 cup fresh crabmeat

1 lb squid, sliced thinly

¼ c fresh chopped parsley

¼ c chopped green onion tops

White rice, for serving

Place a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow to heat for about 5 minutes, and add in the flours. Stir for 20-25 minutes until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper and stir to blend. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring, then add the garlic. Cool the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the wine, vegetable stock, and clam juice. Add the bay leaf, thyme, salt, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. If a good deal of oil or scum rises to the surface, skim it off.

Season the shrimp, crab, and squid with salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the crab and squid to the pot and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Taste the gumbo and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Garnish with parsley and green onions and serve with rice.

Makes 4-6 servings.


Filed under Gluten-Free, Main Dishes, Seafood, Soups

Ham and Red Bean Soup

Growing up, I wasn’t fond of ham. I wasn’t a picky eater, but ham seemed so salty to me (So did bacon. Honestly, I wasn’t much of a pork eater back then). Now I understand that one ham is not necessarily like the other, and some can be quite delicious – not too salty, just a tad sweet, and full of that wonderful porkiness. This year, for Christmas dinner, I chose a spiral-sliced ham. It made Christmas dinner much easier to prepare, so I could focus on other dishes and relax. On purpose, I chose a ham that was twice as large as we needed to feed our small group, just so there would be plenty of leftovers. Leftovers for my parents and my brother to take home, leftovers for my husband to happily snack on (okay, I snacked a bit too!), and leftovers for soup. Because if there is a ham bone, there must be soup.

I opted to make this soup entirely out of what I had left over in my fridge and pantry. I had small African red beans, (Really, that’s what they’re called. I bought them at an African grocery, asked the lady at the counter if they were called something other than “African Red Beans” – as this was what was on the package. They looked like Adzuki beans, which I realize are not African – but she said “They’re red beans.” I’m going with it.) so I opted to use them instead of a more traditional Navy bean or split pea. With the addition of some leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, and herbs, we were in business. After softening the vegetables in some olive oil and allowing the soup to simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, the house filled with the aroma of savory, beany, hammy soup.

I felt that this was one of the best bean soups to grace my kitchen. The ham gave the broth a big meaty boost, and the beans were creamy and released a silky texture to the soup. It was deliciously rustic, perfect for this long stretch of cold days we’ve had lately. And like any good bean soup, it reheated beautifully for my lunch the next day. Am I venturing into the “too many soups” category yet? I hope not. I plan to crank out a few more before the winter is over.

This soup is hearty enough to serve as a main course. I paired it with gluten-free crackers, but you could always opt for gluten-free biscuits, or a nice winter salad.


Ham and Red Bean Soup

3 medium leeks, green tops and ends cut off and discarded, washed well and sliced thinly (reserve one green top)

3-4 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

1 t coriander seeds

1/2 t black peppercorns

1 t cumin seeds

1 T olive oil

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T tomato paste

1 lb small red beans, soaked overnight and rinsed

Bone leftover from ham (or you can substitute smoked ham hocks)

Water (approximately 10 cups)

3 c diced cooked ham

1 t ground chipotle chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Take the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and wrap the reserved green leek top around. Tie with butcher’s twine to secure. Place the coriander seeds, peppercorns, and cumin seeds in the middle of a coffee filter or small piece of cheesecloth, and tie into a bundle using butcher’s twine. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add tomato paste and saute for another minute. Add the beans, ham bone, the herb bundle and the spice bundle, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, partially covering. Allow to simmer for 1 hour.

Add the diced ham and chipotle chile powder and stir in. Allow to simmer until beans are soft and are just beginning to break open, another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste. Remove ham bone and pull any remaining ham from the bone and return to pot. Remove herb bundle and spice bundle, and serve.

Serves 4-6.



Filed under Beans, Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Pork, Soups