Category Archives: Dairy-Free

Daring Cooks: Handmade Gluten-Free Fettucine with Basil-Walnut Pesto

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with.

Of course, those recipes were merely inspiration for my dish. I went off to find my own gluten-free pasta recipe. I’ve made gluten-free pasta only once before (an egg-yolk ravioli that was tasty, but my pasta was too thick and heavy), so this was still a relatively new experience for me. I wanted to make sure I made it thin and light this time around. I wanted it to be delicious. Lucky for me, Shauna over at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef made pasta just a few days before I did. Her pasta was beautiful, and I loved the way she opted to incorporate psyllium husk to increase the flexibility/stretchiness of the dough. I’ve been using psyllium husk a lot more lately in my baking, and am enjoying the results. I was sold.

I wanted the flavor and texture of the pasta to shine through, so I wanted a sauce that wouldn’t overwhelm or cause the dish to be too heavy. After all, we’ve had temperatures at 100 degrees or more for nearly two weeks now, so a lighter dish was definitely a plus. My garden is overflowing with basil, so I opted for a fresh, bright, dairy-free pesto. Basil is one of those herbs that just screams summer to me. It was the perfect compliment to my pasta.

The pasta was somewhat finicky to make – rolling it thin wasn’t much of an issue, however, I had a bit of trouble with it breaking while rolling. After a bit of practice and patience, though, I fell into a rhythm. It started to work. I now understand why so many people love making pasta. It’s as soothing as making bread – a slow, repetitive, and strangely comforting process. I started to fall in love myself.

Once the pasta was all rolled and cut, the rest of the process was easy. Glazing the walnuts in the maple syrup, and then a quick blitz in the food processor, and the pesto was finished. The pasta took only 2 minutes to cook. A quick toss, and we were more than ready to eat.

So eat we did.

 

Gluten-Free Fettucine, adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

3 oz white bean flour

3 oz millet flour

3 oz potato starch

1 t psyllium husk powder

1 t kosher salt

1 large egg

4 egg yolks from large eggs

1 to 2 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 to 2 T water

Combine the flours, psyllium powder, nutmeg, and salt in the bowl of the food processor to combine the flours. Mix the egg, egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the water. Pour the liquid into the flours. Run the food processor on pulse 8 to 10 times, then look at the dough. If the dough has formed crumbs that stay together when pressed, you’re done. If they are a little too dry, add the remaining olive oil, then pulse, look, then add more water, if necessary. If the dough looks a bit too wet, add another tablespoon of flour.

Turn out onto a dry, clean surface. Gather into a ball with your hands and press together. Once a ball is formed, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Cut ball of dough into 4 pieces. Lightly flour your working surface with any of the flours you used for the pasta. Roll out one of the pieces of dough in a rectangle until very thin, as thin as you can get it without breaking. Cut with a pizza cutter into strips, carefully placing each strip onto a plate. Cover the cut pasta with a damp cloth as you go.

To cook the pasta, bring a large, well-salted pot of water to a boil. Carefully lower your pasta into the water and cook for 2 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through but still retains some bite. Drain and toss with a bit of olive oil, then your sauce/pesto.

Serves 4.

Vegan Basil-Walnut Pesto

1 1/2 c walnuts

1 T maple syrup

1 T olive oil

1 1/2 c fresh basil leaves, packed

1 1/2 c fresh parsley leaves, packed

2 1/2 T nutritional yeast flakes

juice of 1 large orange

7 cloves garlic, peeled

1 t salt

1/2 t black pepper

1 t brown rice vinegar

In a small skillet at medium heat, add the walnuts, maple syrup, and olive oil. Cook, stiring slowly for 2-3 minutes or until syrup clings to the walnuts and starts to caramelize. Remove and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add basil, parsley, nutritional yeast, orange juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and brown rice vinegar and pulse, scraping the bowl as you go, until everything is finely chopped, but not a uniform paste. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Filed under Budget-Friendly, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Pasta, Vegetarian

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger: Diet, Dessert and Dogs (Adzuki Bean Spread)

Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger is being hosted this month by Wendy of Celiacs In The House. I love Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger – while I love reading and trying to keep up with all of my favorite gluten-free blogs, reading, gawking, and sometimes drooling, I almost never seem to find time to actually make the recipes I salivate over. This event gives me an opportunity to slow down and actually try a recipe. Thing is, I rarely find it easy to decide which recipe to make. This is definitely the case when it comes to my adoptee this month – Ricki of Diet, Dessert, and Dogs.

Ricki is definitely a powerhouse in the kitchen. Her blog has hundreds of delicious, Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) friendly recipes, and she has published 4 books. I own them all. I love her latest – Good Morning! Breakfasts without Gluten, Sugar, Eggs, or Dairy. Her innovative ways of creating sweet, delicious, healthy recipes using healthy ingredients really gets me to think outside the box. I imagine that going through the healing process of the Anti-Candida Diet forces one to do just that, especially when cravings for waffles, cakes, or fudge strike. Ricki amazes with her ability to satisfy those cravings.

Lately I’ve been in need of good, healthy snacks to pack for lunch, so I made Ricki’s adzuki bean spread. Wow, is it delicious! I am a sucker for bean spreads/dips in any case, but this was unique. It had a lovely umami punch from the miso, and a bit of a bite from the green onions. The creaminess of the beans (I love adzuki beans – they’re one of my favorites, and have appeared here before.) brought everything together. A bit of this stuff, spread on some Mary’s Gone Crackers and enjoyed along a quickly packed lunch of carrot sticks and celery was the perfect easy-to-make lunch. I’m definitely making this again – perhaps even as a quick dip for a party.

Next on my list of recipes to make from Ricki? Her “swiss cheese“. This really has me intrigued. Homemade vegan cheese cubes? I am seeing a salad very soon in my future, topped with these little treats!

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

Strawberry-Blueberry Pie

Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef announced on Facebook a few days back that it was Pie Day on July 5. We were to have a Pie Party! Who was I to turn down that opportunity? I love pie. All kinds of pie – fruit pies, cream pies, pecan pies – you name it, I’m up for it. I would take pie over cake any day of the week. So I made plans to make pie this past weekend. Besides, I’ve been working to perfect my pie crust recipe, and so what better time than now?

I found some amazing, deliciously ripe strawberries at the farmer’s market on Saturday. Due to the sweltering heat, however, they weren’t going to last. They were “eat-today-or-die” strawberries. I immediately took that as an opportunity to make a pie stuffed with strawberries. I opted to throw some blueberries in the filling as well, as I didn’t have enough strawberries, and besides, red and blue just seemed appropriate for the Independence Day weekend.

After rolling out my pie crust, stuffing the pie with sweetened berries, and successfully topping it with a second crust (not easy to do with a fragile gluten-free crust!), I anxiously waited while the pie bubbled away in the oven. Which also had the unfortunate side effect of heating up the kitchen – it seems that even though our house is pretty efficient, our air conditioning still can’t keep up with a 100-degree day and the oven, once 4 or 5 o’clock rolls around. It was a somewhat sweaty affair by the end. So you see, I made some pretty serious sacrifices, all in the name of pie.

Once the pie cooled, we dug in. It was juicy, with a crisp, flaky crust. The verdict? Definitely tasty enough to consider a success. However, I’m still tweaking that pie crust recipe – I am considering omitting brown rice flour and using another flour next time. The crust still seems gritty in texture to me. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with it. It rolls out nicely and with a bit of help from some egg wash, browns well. As for the filling, I think I cut the sugar back a bit too much, but it did make for a lighter dessert. Next time, however, I think another 1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar would do the trick. Regardless, I was happy to enjoy another piece the following evening. And I’m half-wishing I had a slice right about now, as a mid-morning snack. Because after all, it’s pie.

Strawberry-Blueberry Pie (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Pie Crust (adapted from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free)

1 c brown rice flour (considering using millet flour next time, or a mix of different flours)

1/2 c sorghum flour

1/2 c potato starch

3 T sweet white rice flour

1/2 t fine sea salt

7 T palm shortening, placed in freezer for about 20 minutes to harden

1 cold large egg

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T agave nectar

1/4 c ice water

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Whisk together rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, sweet white rice flour, and salt. Remove the shortening from the freezer and dice into small pieces. Place it evenly around the flour, and with a pastry blender, a fork, or your hands, mix until the flour has a mealy texture and the largest pieces of shortening are the size of small peas.

Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and agave to the egg and beat well. Pour egg mix into the flour mix and stir until just incorporated. Next, drizzle some of the water over the flour mixture and stir in, just until the dough starts to come together. Add more water as you need, but don’t make the dough too wet. It should look “shaggy”. Push the dough together with your hands and place on a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a ball, and flatten with your hands. Wrap the plastic wrap around the dough and place in refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or up to overnight.

If it’s been several hours since your dough was placed in the refrigerator, allow it to sit out on the counter for 15-20 minutes before working it. Otherwise, place a handful of the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap (tape bottom piece to the counter for easy rolling) and roll out in a large circle about 1/8 inch thick. (You can store the rest in the refrigerator while you work on the dough piece by piece) If the plastic gets wrinkles in it, you can pull it up from the dough and lay it back down to keep rolling.

Peel top piece of plastic wrap from dough, and un-tape the bottom piece from counter. Place 8-inch pie pan upside-down on top of dough, and lifting from underneath the bottom piece of plastic wrap, quickly flip the dough and pie pan simultaneously so that the pie crust is now laying on top of the pan, right-side up. Press the dough down into the pan, and carefully peel away the plastic wrap. Pinch away the excess pie crust. You should have enough to roll out another, slightly smaller, circle using the same technique.

Filling

1 lb strawberries, hulled and cut in half

1 lb blueberries

1/4 c coconut palm sugar (considering doubling next time)

1/2 c potato starch

2 T lemon juice (or juice from 1 lemon)

2 t lemon zest (or zest from 1 lemon)

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Combine filling ingredients together in a medium bowl. Fill bottom pie crust with filling. Place second crust on top, and crimp around edges to seal. Cut holes in center to vent.

1 egg +2 T water, whisked (for egg wash)

Brush crust with egg wash. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes or until crust is browned and berries are bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing. Serves 8.

This post is linked to Real Food Weekly at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Menu Plan June 27-July 1, plus a Summer Squash Chicken Frittata

Where have the menu plans gone? You might be asking. They haven’t been posted on my blog for a few weeks now. Well, long story short, I was on vacation for 2 weeks. While I had vague ideas of what I planned on cooking, I was in the midst of testing so many recipes for my upcoming book, and our schedule was so lax, that I didn’t have an actual “plan.” (In fact, there were evenings where, after hours of cooking and testing recipes, my husband asked what was for dinner, and my only plan was something like “There are brownies, a cake, crackers, bread, some tomato jam, and I’m working on a meatloaf. Would you like any of that?”  I had tons of food around, but often, there wasn’t a cohesive meal in sight.) Last week, I was still in post-vacation recovery mode, and a lot of the meals were last-minute compilations of what we needed to use up. Finally, this week, we’re back into the swing of things.

One of the recipes I was testing during my time off was a recipe I debuted last year, albeit in a slightly different form, as an appetizer for a crowd of guests (gluten and dairy eaters) that were visiting. Originally it was called an “appetizer square”, and was made with zucchini and crumbled pork sausage, rather than summer squash and chicken. It obviously went over well, as the pieces were gobbled down fairly quickly. When I came across it again, I remembered the abundance of squash in the refrigerator, and decided to make a different version. It turned out to be even better than the first, in my opinion.

What’s lovely about a recipe like this is that it’s versatile. Zucchini or summer squash can be used – and this time of year, most of us have more of both of these veggies than we’d like, so it’s a great way to use it up! Any leftover cooked meat can be used – or even beana (I could imagine black beans tasting scrumptious here!). Spice it how you’d like. Serve it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as an appetizer. The sky is the limit here.

Summer Squash Chicken Frittata (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

½ c olive oil, divided

½ c diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t minced fresh sage

½ lb diced cooked chicken

½ t ground cumin

1 t herbs de Provence

1 t chile powder

4 whole eggs

½ c almond flour

¼ c coconut flour

1 T baking powder

3 c grated summer squash or zucchini

½ c Daiya cheese (or other non-dairy cheese)

1 T nutritional yeast flakes

½ t salt

¼ t ground black pepper

Heat a skillet to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions to skillet and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, sage, and chicken and sauté for another minute. Remove and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Grease a 13X9 baking dish and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until blended, and add the rest of the oil and whisk. Add in the flours, baking powder, onion-garlic-chicken mix, grated squash and remaining ingredients. Spread into prepared baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool for 5 minutes and cut into squares. Makes 16 appetizer servings.

And now, for the menu for this week!

Monday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomato

Lunch: Roasted turkey breast, leftover veggies from Sunday dinner (grilled asparagus, green beans)

Dinner: Chicken with mole sauce, steamed brown rice, steamed broccoli

Tuesday

Breakfast: Smoothie with strawberries, spinach, protein powder, almond milk and chia seeds, scrambled egg whites with Daiya cheese

Lunch: Roasted turkey breast with baby carrots and steamed spinach, unless there are leftovers from dinner

Dinner: Garden salad, Meatballs

Wednesday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomatoes

Lunch: Garden salad with roasted turkey breast or tuna

Dinner: Brined pork chops, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed cauliflower and spinach

Thursday

Breakfast: Smoothie with acai berry, protein powder, banana, spinach, and chia seeds, scrambled egg whites

Lunch: Tuna, shredded carrots, and spinach in a brown rice tortilla wrap

Dinner: Grilled salmon, okra and tomatoes, grilled potatoes

Friday

Breakfast: Healthy chocolate zucchini muffin, scrambled egg whites with spinach and tomatoes

Lunch: Creamy tomato tofu soup, gluten-free crackers

Dinner: Fried brown rice with shrimp, green beans

Snacks this week will include fresh peaches, black bean dip on brown rice cakes, and apples with peanut or almond butter. I also have Tanka bars on hand if I need a bit of protein.

Want more great menu ideas? Check out Celiacs In The House and the Gluten-Free Menu Swap!

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free.

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Filed under Appetizers, breakfast, Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Meal Plans, Quick and Easy, Vegetables

Daring Bakers: Baklava

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

When I read this, I felt that lump creep up in my throat. Baklava? It’s one of my most favorite of treats. Sweet and sticky with honey, flaky, with a bunch of lovely nuts in between the layers. But gluten-free? I’ve never seen it – and certainly never tried it. One of the keys to those flaky layers in the phyllo dough is that stretchiness in gluten. If there’s no gluten, how do you recreate the stretchiness?

So I googled. I looked for gluten-free phyllo dough. I wasn’t finding much, and not everyone out there in the internet world was successful at making it. This was an elusive thing for sure. But I perservered. I found some instructions on Glutenfreeda.com and opted to try my hand at it.

After I started to roll out my layers, I started to feel more confident. I could roll out pretty thin sheets of dough with success. I rolled each layer on parchment, but as time went on, found that it would peel from plastic wrap even easier than parchment, so I changed to using plastic wrap. One daunting task achieved – I could roll thin dough.

I then made the filling – this was easy. Just a blitz in the food processor and I was ready for the next step.

Then came the assembly. This went well, which further bolstered my confidence. I could peel the dough, layer by layer, brushing with vegan butter in between, layering the nut mixture as well, until I had a completely layered dish. Even cutting the pieces was pretty easy. All that was left was baking and allowing it to sit. And so I did, crossing fingers.

Once it came out of the oven, this was when I was concerned. No flakiness. It looked virtually the same coming out as it did going in – only a wee bit more brown. I went ahead and poured the syrup over and allowed it to sit, hoping for the best.

Unfortunately, the baklava didn’t live up to expectations. The layers were dense. Bordering on gummy and chewy. From far away, it still looked like baklava, but upon closer inspection, it wasn’t. (However, the filling was still delicious, if you peeled off the layer of dough and just ate the filling. Not that I would know or anything.)

So the perfect gluten-free baklava still eludes me. It’s still in my dreams, however. Hopefully someday soon, I’ll muster up the courage to try the phyllo dough again. Thanks to Erica for this challenge – I hope to one day conquer it!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Baklava

Phyllo Dough

½ c sweet white rice flour

1 c sorghum flour

1 c potato starch

½ c tapioca starch

1 T psyllium husks

1 t guar gum

2 large eggs

2/3 c coconut milk

1/3 c water

Whisk together flours, psyllium husks, and guar gum. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, and water. Attach the dough hook to the mixer. Gradually add in the flour, with the machine on low, until the dough is no longer sticky. (add additional tapioca starch as needed) Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it into 8 equal pieces. Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper at least 10 inches wide. Using generous amounts of tapioca starch, roll each piece of dough onto a piece of parchment paper until it measures at least 10 inches by 6 inches, making sure the thickness is fairly uniform. You want it as thin as possible without breaking. Repeat with each piece of dough. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap to keep from drying out.

Filling

2 t cinnamon

1/8 t allspice

¾ c almonds

¾ c walnuts

¾ c pistachios

2/3 c pitted Medjool dates

Pinch salt

½ c combination of melted ghee and melted vegan butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cinnamon, allspice, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, dates, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times until nuts and dates are finely chopped (but not turned into dust).

Trim your phyllo sheets to fit your pan by setting the pan on top of each sheet, and using a pizza cutter or knife, cut around the pan. Brush melted ghee/vegan butter inside the pan along the bottom and sides. Carefully peel a piece of phyllo dough (I used a thin, flexible spatula to help me) and place in the bottom of the pan. Brush with “butter” and peel another piece of phyllo dough, placing it over the first. Brush with “butter” again.

Place 1/3 of the nut filling evenly over the dough in the pan. Add another 2 layers of phyllo dough, followed by “butter” on top of each. Add another 1/3 of the nut filling. Add another 2 layers of the phyllo dough followed by “butter” on top of each, the final 1/3 of the filling, and finish with the last 2 layers of phyllo dough, followed by “butter” on top of each. Tuck down any edges that are flipping up on the sides of the pan with a spatula so that the top looks neat.

Using a knife, carefully cut the baklava into pieces as desired. Brush one last time with “butter”, making sure you get it covered completely.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, make syrup.

Syrup

1 ½ c honey

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

1 2-inch piece lemon peel

¼ c water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove cinnamon, cloves, and lemon peel.

 When the baklava is finished baking, cut again all the way through. Pour the syrup evenly over all of the baklava. Allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, cover and allow to sit overnight to allow syrup to absorb.

Serve at room temperature.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Lauren’s Gourmet – Gluten-Free Products With Great Taste (And Another Giveaway!)

A few weeks ago, I was at the Chestnut Square Farmer’s Market, doing my weekly shopping, when I walked past a booth filled with bags of various baking mixes. I almost walked right past the booth without a second glance – after all, in that area of the market, there are a lot of vendors selling pasta sauces, homemade pasta, and artisan breads, most of which I cannot eat. (You know how that is, right? Don’t you put on those imaginary blinders when you walk past these things too? And that little voice in your head tells those gluten-filled goodies “lalalalala I can’t SEE you!” This isn’t just me, is it?) But something caused me to turn my head as I walked past, and take another look at what was being sold at this table. There had to be at least a dozen different brown paper bags containing different baking mixes. Upon closer inspection, I read the labels: “Lauren’s Gourmet – Gluten-Free.” Gluten-Free Baking Mixes? At my farmer’s market? I picked one up and started asking about it. I asked where the mixes were made. (In Anna, Texas, just a few miles north of the market.) I asked if they were made in a dedicated kitchen. (They were.) I asked if there were any that were dairy-free, while simultaneously picking up one of the packages and reading the ingredients. (She told me that many mixes contained no dairy and no egg, and I could substitute non-dairy milk and egg substitutes as I needed.) While I’m not much for baking mixes, (if you visit here often, you’ll see that I change up my gluten-free flours in recipes all the time, never sticking to one blend, and mostly making things from scratch. I have more than a dozen different flours in my pantry. It’s kind of a problem when it comes to pantry space.) I was excited. Somebody in my little part of the world was making gluten-free baking mixes! After some consideration, I picked up a bag of Southern Cornbread and took it home with me.

A few days later, I made that cornbread to go along with some fresh pinto beans (Which I also picked up at the market – this is one of the many perks of shopping at the farmer’s market all the time. You can buy fresh beans!). I baked it in a glass bread pan, and let me tell you – that was some of the best cornbread to ever come out of my kitchen. It was perfectly crisp on the edges, but amazingly moist in the center, with a hint of sweetness. My husband and I ate a good deal of it that night, and it was delicious the next day as well. I grilled a slice in a pan with a bit of ghee, and drizzled just a touch of maple syrup over it. Heaven.

I was so ecstatic about this new discovery that I searched and found Lauren’s Gourmet online. I then found Lauren’s Gourmet on Facebook. I reached out to Karen, the founder of Lauren’s Gourmet, and asked if I could share more of her great products with my readers. The next day, she called me, and we made plans. I headed up to the farmer’s market the following Saturday and officially “met” Karen.

Karen, founder of Lauren's Gourmet, and her daughter, Lauren

Karen is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. Her daughter, Lauren, was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008. Like many parents, Karen was overwhelmed with how to manage Lauren’s diet and keep her healthy. Karen wanted to find a way for her and her daughter to embrace the disease, not fight it. So she started researching. And perhaps more importantly, she started experimenting. And now, in three short years, she has started a growing business selling various gluten-free baking mixes in 5 states and online.

Banana muffins

These aren’t just any gluten-free baking mixes, either. They’re egg free. Nut-free. Many are yeast and casein-free. She doesn’t use preservatives. She makes suggestions on her instructions for dairy and egg substitutes to help accommodate her customers and their needs. Not only does she use a dedicated kitchen, but Karen has done her research to ensure that the ingredients in her mixes are tested and are gluten-free – even down to the recycled packaging (which is made partially from corn, not wheat). Karen cares very much about the quality of her product and the happiness of her customers, and it shows.

I was genuinely ecstatic about having the opportunity to review some of these products. I took home some baking mixes and tested them. I baked her Banana Nut Bread (as muffins, swapping out the nuts for dairy-free chocolate chips – Brittany doesn’t like nuts), her Blueberry Muffins (I even swapped out the eggs with “chia eggs” – which is simply 1 tablespoon of ground chia seed meal + 3 tablespoons of water for each egg, whisked together), and her Cinnamon Coffee Cake (where I substituted the buttermilk with dairy-free milk + 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar). Of course, I used non-dairy milk in all of the mixes.

Blueberry muffins

The verdict? They were all delicious. Brittany liked the blueberry muffins most of all, while I fell in love with the cinnamon coffee cake. They were easy to bake – I did have to adjust baking times for the cinnamon coffee cake, as I used a different sized pan, but that was no big deal. These were all baking mixes I’d be happy to keep on hand just in case I had last-minute company, or felt like treating the kids to a special baked treat.

Lucky you, you’ll have the opportunity to try these mixes out yourself! Karen has graciously agreed to give away 5 baking mixes to 5 lucky readers – and you can choose which mix you’d like to win! Just visit Lauren’s Gourmet, and come back here and tell me which mix you’d like to win, to be considered in this giveaway.

If you have additional intolerances beyond gluten, here’s some guidance so you can be sure you choose a mix that is suitable for you:

All mixes are dairy-free EXCEPT the chocolate chip muffin

– All mixes are yeast-free EXCEPT the pizza crust

– All mixes contain some sugar (some, like the corn bread, pizza crust, and pie crust, contain very little)

– All mixes contain corn

For additional chances to win, leave me an additional comment after you have completed each of the following actions:

1. “Like” Lauren’s Gourmet on Facebook.

2. “Like” Tasty Eats At Home on Facebook.

3. Share about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter.

4. Subscribe to Tasty Eats At Home via email or RSS feed.

There you have it! This giveaway will end on Saturday, July 2, 2011.

cinnamon coffee cake

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Filed under Baked goods, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian

Blueberry Spinach Mint Smoothie

Yesterday was my first day back at the office, after enjoying two weeks of vacation at home. It was a glorious two weeks. We didn’t do much – we visited Lonesome Dove in Fort Worth, saw a movie, visited the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center, played with the XBOX 360 and Kinect, and I met Amy of Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free for lunch one day (which was wonderful!). Other than those things, some shopping, errands, and doctors appointments, there wasn’t a lot of schedule or planned activities. Which left me with LOTS of time to test recipes for my upcoming book!

Testing recipes starts out as fun. First, there’s an idea. It’s like a spark in your brain. This can happen anytime – many times, I’ll be immersed in another activity, such as running, watching TV (okay, so watching shows like Top Chef Masters does help get those creative juices flowing!), or chatting with my husband, and a concept will pop into my head. Then it’s as if I have little control over the mind flow that happens next – I start to envision a dish, and components fall into place. A bit of color here, some fresh herbs there, and a bit of citrus for acidity and balance…and suddenly, I need to do one of two things: either hop into the kitchen and start making my creation immediately, or else grab whatever I have to write on (or type) and jot down my ideas. During these past two weeks, many times, I had the freedom to hop into the kitchen. That was liberating and great fun.

But then reality starts to set in. Sometimes these grand ideas work the first time. But sometimes (many times), they don’t. Not that they’re all failures (although I’d had my share of those!), but they need tweaking. So I start again. And again. This is where it starts to not feel as “fun”. However, if I can persist through multiple trials, and see a successful dish arise from my experiments, then it’s all worth it. There is nothing more rewarding than working hard at something and finally feeling that sense of accomplishment.

But there’s another side to recipe testing. This is the side “they” don’t talk about. The part where you have to taste. And taste. And taste again. All day, you’re nibbling. Next thing you know, that scale creeps up, bit by bit. That fourth and fifth version of your cookie recipe is slowly doing your figure some damage! Not to mention all those nibbles are not likely to add up to a balanced diet by the end of the day.

So I am trying to balance however I can. Being back at work this week puts me back into my routine, which helps. (It also slows down recipe testing progress, but c’est la vie…) I’m also trying to incorporate a good, nutrient-rich smoothie pretty often in my diet. This is a smoothie I’ve enjoyed quite a bit lately. For some reason, the combination of blueberries, mint, and spinach works well for me. It’s fresh, just barely sweet, and with a scoopful of protein powder, it’s filling enough and has staying power to get me through the morning. It certainly helps that blueberries are plentiful this time of year, and the mint in my garden is beginning to really take off. It’s perfect on a hot summer day, when the thought of a hot breakfast just doesn’t appeal.

Rarely do I follow a recipe when making my smoothies. It’s more of a dump-random-stuff-together-and-see-what-happens event. So if you don’t have something, feel free to substitute. A banana would work well in here. So would some coconut milk or yogurt (dairy or non-dairy, your choice). Change up the greens – use kale or swiss chard instead of spinach. Or omit them entirely, and add multiple varieties of berries for a berry-mint smoothie. It’s YOUR smoothie – make the most of it!

Blueberry Spinach Mint Smoothie

About 2 cups of baby spinach

1/2 c packed mint leaves

1/2 c fresh blueberries

1 T brown rice protein powder (I’ve been using Jarrow Brown Rice lately)

1 T hemp seeds (optional)

1 c coconut water

Ice

Stevia to sweeten, if desired

Add spinach, mint, blueberries, protein powder, hemp seeds, and coconut water together in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding more coconut water or ice if desired. Taste – if it’s not sweet enough for your liking, add a few drops of stevia extract and blend again.

Serve cold. Makes 1-2 servings.

Don’t forget! You can enter for your chance to win  Gluten-Free Made Simple by Carol Field Dahlstrom, Elizabeth Dahlstrom Burnley, and Marcia Schultz Dahlstrom! Check out my giveaway post here. Hurry, because the giveaway ends Saturday, June 25, 2011!

This post was submitted to the June 2011 SOS Challenge over at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays at Gluten-Free Homemaker.

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Filed under breakfast, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian