Tag Archives: christmas

Gluten-Free Holiday: Chocolate Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts

This is the final week of Gluten-Free Holiday, and we’re ending it as we should end any holiday event – with dessert! Special holiday treats are often the highlight this time of year – many people love to make holiday goodies, cakes, cookies, pies, and candies. This gives those of us on a special diet some wonderful dessert ideas that meet our needs, or the needs of our loved ones. It’s always wonderful to make a special treat that a loved one that usually goes without can eat!

But before I get to my recipe for chocolate-dipped dates with spiced nuts (which you should TOTALLY check out!), let me share with you the fun giveaways for this week! Amy over at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free is hosting this week, and has some wonderful giveaways – two books that you could win before anyone else gets them!

Amy is giving away 3 copies of Stephanie O’Dea’s More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. The release date for this book is December 28th. (If you wish, pre-order it now and get the special pre-sale price!)

Amy is also giving away 3 autographed copies of her new book, Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free. The release date for this book is mid-January. Same story with this one – pre-order and save! (I am pre-ordering RIGHT NOW!)

Definitely head on over to Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free and share your favorite gluten-free dessert and check out these giveaways! Also check out her cranberry swirl cheesecake – it looks sinful!

Now, to my gluten-free holiday dessert. This is a little treat that is easy to make beforehand and set out at any holiday party or dinner as part of a dessert tray, or even all by itself! I found the recipe in Bon Appetit’s magazine and modified it just barely. The recipe was naturally gluten-free already (a plus!). When you bite into these, they taste so rich and complex – their flavor far exceeds the effort, and compared to a lot of desserts, they’re really not all that unhealthy. Definitely traits I look for when choosing what treats to make!

Chocolate-Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts, adapted from Bon Appetit

54 roasted, salted almonds, divided

3 t freshly grated orange peel, divided

2 t honey

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t allspice

18 medjool dates, pitted

1 c dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand)

Toss 36 almonds, half of the orange peel, honey, cinnamon, and allspice in a small bowl.

Cut a slit down each of the dates and stuff with 2 spice-coated almonds. Close the date as much as possible.

Line a small baking sheet with foil. Heat a small saucepan with about 2 inches of water to a simmer and place a stainless steel bowl over the water (make sure your bowl is large enough to sit on top of the saucepan, or else use a double boiler). Place the chocolate chips in the bowl and stir occasionally until melted through. Grasp one end of each date, dip into chocolate, shaking off excess, and place on the foil. Repeat with each date. Then with the remaining almonds, press one on top of each of the chocolate-covered dates. Sprinkle with remaining orange peel and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until set.

Makes 18 dates.

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Filed under Appetizers, Dairy-Free, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Quick and Easy, Vegetarian

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.

 

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

Old-Fashioned Peanut Brittle

food-057Peanut brittle is one of my favorite candies to enjoy at Christmas-time. It also happens to be a relatively simple treat to make. Only trouble is, I can’t keep from eating it as I’m making little “goodie” bags for family and friends! This recipe is adapted from an old Bon Appetit recipe.

3 cups sugar

2 cups water

¾ c light corn syrup

¾ c dark corn syrup

½ t salt

4 cups raw Spanish peanuts

2 T unsalted butter

1 T baking soda

1 t vanilla extract

 

Butter 2 heavy large baking sheets. Stir first 4 ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high, and boil without stirring until a candy thermometer reaches 260 degrees, about 40 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mix in peanuts, salt, and butter and cook until thermometer reaches 295 degrees, stirring constantly, about 15 minutes. Add baking soda and vanilla and stir briskly. Immediately pour onto prepared baking sheets, dividing evenly. Spread brittle out as thinly as possible. Let stand until cold and hard. Break brittle into pieces. Store in airtight containers at room temperature.

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Filed under Desserts, Gluten-Free