Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wrap it Up!

So, I am not really a big meat eater. Fish? Always! Chicken? Not a huge fan. Red Meat? Sometimes. Turkey? Ew. In fact, I used to be pescatarian, meaning the only meat I ate was fish. I did this for many reasons. Some due to my freakishly high cholesterol, some due to the hormones put in meat these days, and some due to the oftentimes disgustingness of the large meat-packing corporations. My allergies have left me needing meat, otherwise there wouldn't be much else to eat a lot of the time. I am still not a big fan of most meats though.

One meat I have always been a fan of and will always be a fan of, however, is bacon. And lately I have been craving bacon. And I've been in to wrapping things in bacon...

Here are two recipes for things wrapped in bacon. I used the same sauce for both as well because why change what works, am I right?

First up we got some veggies...

Green Bean Bundles:
Green Beans or Hericot Verts
10 slices of bacon, cut in half lengthwise
1 stick vegan butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Next, cook the green beans. You can do his by steaming them on the stove or my favorite way is to be the steam in bag kind and do all the work in the microwave.

After the beans are cooked, wait for them to cool a little bit then gather them in bundles of 6-8. Wrap each bundle with a piece of bacon, wrapping it together in a kind of knot.

Place each bundle, knot-side down on a baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking spray.

Now that the bundles are prepared, it is time to make the sauce. Combine the minced garlic, butter and brown sugar on the stove over medium heat. Melt the butter and stir everything to combine. Cook until it starts to resemble cooking caramel, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the sauce is ready remove it from the stove and pour it over the bundles.

Bake the green bean bundles for about 35-40 minutes until bacon is crispy.

These are a staple for holiday meals and special family dinners. No one ever complains. Unlike me, my family s full of major meat eaters.

And next at bat we have a little seafood...

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
12 scallops
6 slices of bacon, cut in half lengthwise
12 skewer sticks
1 stick vegan butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup brown sugar.

First set your oven to broil.

Next take the half slices of bacon and pre-cook them a little in the microwave. I zapped mine for bout a minute and a half. You still want the bacon to me easily bendable.

Wrap the slice of bacon around each scallop and stick a skewer through to hold it all together.

Once all of the scallops are wrapped and skewered, it's time to make the sauce. Start by combining the butter, brown sugar and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until it starts to look kind of caramely, stirring almost constantly.

When the sauce is done, remove from the stove and pour slowly over the scallops. spoon any sauce that fell to the bottom of the pan back onto the scallops.

Broil the scallops for about 6 minutes, or until bacon is crispy.

Yum Yum Yum it's BACON (please tell me I am not the only one who has seen that dog treat commercial?)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gluten-free Pie Crust and Classic Pecan Pie

Oh how I love Christmas! I look forward to it all year, I prep for it the entire month of December and I drive everyone crazy making them follow all of my traditions. Pies are one of those traditions- particularly pecan pie. I love making pies. In fact 2 of my all-time favorite recipes are pies: apple and pecan. When I stopped eating gluten, I kind of gave up on pie.

Confession time- I always used pillsbury roll-out pie crusts, partially because I am lazy and partially because I think they taste really good. Since pillsbury has not yet made gluten-free pie crusts, I threw in the towel on pies (well for me at least. I still made pies for family and friends).

Well, I was finally ready for pie again, meaning I had to make my own pie crust. After some research about what flours work well together, butter or shortening, and vinegar or not vinegar, etc. I came up with this recipe. It has both butter and shortening, the best of both worlds, and the mild apple cider vinegar.

This pie crust, came just in time for the holidays too, because christmas is just not christmas in my family without pecan pie. My grandparents have a farm in west Tennessee and they have loads of pecan trees. I grew up on pecan pie. Some say its too sweet but I say bring on the sugar. I hardly ever have it so a sugar coma every once in a while can do a girl some good if you ask me.

The first recipe is for a basic pie crust, then I will share my papaw's pecan pie recipe.

Gluten Free Pie Crust
1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup potato starch
3 teaspoons xanthum gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup shortening
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 whole eggs
First combine all of the dry ingredients (the first 7 ingredients) and whisk together in a large bowl. Next cut in the cold butter and sugar with a pastry blender.

Now make a well in the middle of the flour and add in the eggs and vinegar. With a fork work the liquids into the dough, starting in the center and working outwards.

Combine the dough into a large ball and then place in between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper. Roll out slightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.

When it comes to rolling out the dough, keep in between the parchment or wax paper and roll out with a rolling pin. Then peel off one side an flip over onto a pie plate. Once it is on the pie plate, peel off the other piece of wax or parchment. If this doesn't work, you can do it the old school way with a lot of GF flour and your counter-top. At this point you can either prebake the crust or fill it up!

Th pie crust doesn't look too pretty at this time, but you can either even it out and pinch ridges to make it pretty or leave it like this to pinch with the top crust for fruit pies or other 2 crust pies.

Speaking of fill it up... why not fill it up as a Pecan Pie? And not just any pecan pie, but my Papaw's classic pecan pie. Nothing fancy chocolate, no bourbon, just simple goodness and by far the best pecan pie I have ever had. Last year, I asked for the recipe and have been making it ever since. Even when following the recipe exactly, I have yet to make it as good as my Papaw or Nana but I think I am getting close. They must just have magi hands or add extra love or something.

Papaw's Pecan Pie
1 unbaked pie shell (this is one half of the pie crust recipe listed above rolled out onto a pie plate)
1/4 cup vegan butter
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup (red label Karo)
1 1/2 cup pecan halves

First preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. After you roll out the dough onto an ungreased pie pan, you may want to dust the top of the crust with any gluten free flour lightly. This is because the filling of the pie has such high sugar content. I am not actually sure what this does but I just know that it helps to dust with flour. Maybe I should look up why at some point...

Now in a mixing bowl, cream together vegan butter, eggs, and sugar. Then add in corn syrup and beat with a fork. Once the filling is done, pour it into the pie crust.

Now there are two ways to do the next part. You can either mix the pecans into the filling before you pour it into the pie crust or you can do the more meticulous way, which is what I usually do. For this way you arrange the pecans in a circular pattern on top of the filling after you pour it into the crust. Just one pecan at a time around the edge then moving inwards after you complete each circle. This generally ends up looking more awesome, which is why I do it- well and because there is something therapeutic about placing each pecan by hand. That could just be for a perpetually stressed college student, however.

After you finish (either way), place in the oven and bake for about 80 minutes or until a knife comes out of the center clean and the top has browned.

Now that I have shared with you one of my families food traditions can I share with you some of our other ones? pretty please?

Well, it involves many hours in the car. (This tradition hasn't been every year recently since me and my siblings all started college, but we did it this year.) We travel all over the state of Tennessee and sometimes Alabama. But its all worth it when you get to see things like this:

This is my Papaw and Nana's farm covered in snow on the day after Christmas. Beautiful!

Christmas Eve we all go to my parents church for christmas eve service, then my parents give us our christmas PJs (and no you are never to old to get PJs from your parents!)
Then on Christmas day we open presents at my parents house in the morning with our traditional holiday breakfast then we head out on the road.

We start by visiting my mom's side of the family- this year Christmas lunch in Nashville. Then we head to West Tennessee to see my dad's side of the family at the farm shown above.

Another tradition (intentional or not): The farm is filled with dogs.

Old, like Grady...
And Young, Like Merrill...

Ok that's not really a tradition, but there are always a ton of dogs everywhere and I just really wanted to show you the adorable pictures :)

And for one last time until next year... Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Moroccan Tomato Lentil Soup

Here is the third soup for your wintery enjoyment. This soup is inspired by my favorite soup from Au Bon Pain. With all of my food allergies, my on campus food choices are slim. ABP is one place I can count on, however. They always list what's in all of their food and advertise which of their soups and rice bowls, etc are gluten and dairy free. Another bonus is that they post it all online too so I can plan ahead.

This Moroccan Tomato Lentil soup is an homage to their French Moroccan Tomato Lentil Soup. It is not the same recipe but it contains many of the same ingredients and has the same overall taste.

Moroccan Tomato Lentil Soup

1 cup dried lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 14oz can roasted crushed tomatoes, chopped
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs
7 cups chicken stock
1 can navy beans
curry powder
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, cover the dried lentils completely with water and soak for two hours. After two hours, drain and rinse the lentils, then set aside.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil then add in the diced onion. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is softened and starts to brown. Next, add in the rosemary and lentils and stir to coat. Sprinkle with curry powder (as much or little as you want).

Now add in the tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring the soup to a boil and then cover and lower to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes then add in the can of navy beans. Bring back to a simmer and cook for another 30 minutes.

Before serving, remove the rosemary sprigs and salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night

Well, it is officially Christmas (at least here on the East Coast). And I am proud to say that the christmas baking and cooking is over. Everything is prepped and ready to drive to Nashville tomorrow. We are meeting my mom's side of the family there for Christmas lunch then packing up again that night and heading off to West Tennessee to stay with my dad's side of the family for a few days.

For those of you who don't know my family all to well, one thing you should know is that there are a lot of us. And we all really like food. This means a lot of food must be made. For lunch we all split it up, so that wasn't too bad, but then we had to do Christmas Eve dinner at my house, and Christmas breakfast for the next morning, and so on and so on. I think I have spent the past two days shuffling back and forth between the grocery store and our kitchen. I think I have lost my sanity. I am currently laying in bed remembering why scoliosis is so awful. Standing all day can do that to my back (an yes, I know I sound like I'm 85 years old).

Its a good thing I love cooking, right? Otherwise I may not have survived. My mom's a trooper because she doesn't enjoy cooking and suck it out with me in addition to cleaning the kitchen about 5 times.

Here is a little recap of some of the things we made for Christmas, and over the next week or two, I will probably post most of these recipes because they all turned out so good.

For tonight we made bacon-wrapped scallops, fish and chips, and bread pudding with a brown sugar sauce for dessert.

For tomorrow we made pecan and apple pies, one gluten an dairy free and one regular of each. I also made green bean bundles, a recipe which my mom's friend, Myra, sent me and has recently become a family favorite.

Lastly, for tomorrow we made sausage-egg casserole for breakfast. I am still not quite sure why this food took so many hours in the kitchen but I guess I have always done everything in my own time. I consider it one of my better qualities :)

I can't share with you all of the recipes just yet, but I would love to share the recipe for the pumpkin bread pumpkin because it is absolutely delectable. This is the first bread pudding I have ever eaten, let alone baked, and it has turned me into a believer.

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding
vegan butter
Gluten-free white sandwich bread torn into small pieces (6 cups more or less)
2 cups soy milk creamer
3 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter an 11x7 inch baking dish with the vegan butter.

Put the bread pieces in a bowl and pour the soy creamer over them.

In another bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin, melted butter, spices, and vanilla with a hand or stand mixer. Stir in the cranberries.

Pour this pumpkin mixture over the bread and cream mixture and stir to blend. Now pour this mixture into the buttered baking dish and sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for about 50-55 minutes or until pudding is set. It should look like this out of the oven:

Serve with this brown sugar sauce drizzled over it:

Brown Sugar Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup soy creamer
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let boil for about five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool as the sauce will thicken as it cools.

Here is the bread pudding served into little glasses and layered with light drizzles of the super rich and yummy brown sugar sauce. Doesn't it just look lovely. I was planning on putting a little dollop of whipped cream on top but I couldn't get my soy cream to whip. If any of you have any tips on making dairy-free whipped cream, please let me know! I could really use the help on that front.

Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope you get to spend it with the people you love and reflect on the blessings that God has given each and every one of you, including the greatest blessing of all, sweet little baby Jesus (said ricky bobby style). But in all seriousness, Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Snows a Comin...Stock Up on Soup!

Here is the second soup for a cozy winter night in. And if the weathermen are right, we should be getting snow here in Atlanta in the next couple of days. Soup will be perfect for watching movies by the fire or taking a break from an intense, icy snowball fight- not that we ever get enough snow to actually make snowballs. Go to the grocery sore, or raid your pantry, and go ahead and make this soup to have on hand in case the snow clouds attack.

Peanut Soup is a popular type of soup on the African continent. Particularly in West Africa. Seeing as I have never been anywhere in West Africa, I am not sure how authentic this is, but man does it taste good. It is also very versatile, meaning that you can make it as spicy or mild as you want. You can also serve as a traditional soup with a bowl and a spoon or you can spoon it over cooked rice as a full meal. The latter is probably the more traditional way to do it.

West African Tomato Peanut Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 sweet onions, finely diced
1 extra-large red bell pepper
6-7 cloves garlic, minced
1 15oz can roasted diced tomatoes
1 15oz can salsa (mild, medium, or hot)
8 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
2/3 (18oz) jar crunchy peanut butter (preferably all natural because it has a more peanuty taste)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, and garlic until softened and lightly browned. This will probably take about 5 minutes.

Next, stir in tomatoes (with their juice), salsa, vegeta
ble broth, pepper, and red pepper. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

Then add in rice and stir. Reduce the heat cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until rice is cooked.

When rice is cooked, add the peanut butter and quickly whisk to incorporate. return the soup to a simmer to heat and then serve (either in a bowl or over cooked rice as mentioned earlier).

If the soup is too spicy, you can cool it down by adding more peanut butter and stock or by whisking in some coconut milk.
The weather outside is frightful but this soup is oh so delightful!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Raspberry and Rosemary Scones

Still need a Christmas breakfast idea? How about adding these scones to the table? They have Rosemary for the green, Raspberry preserves for the red and their taste just screams home for the holidays. I originally made these scones last Valentines day for my roommates and I, but I have been wanting to try them gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free so I thought they would work just as well for christmas as they did for Valentines Day. The original recipe was from Giada de Laurentiis but I changed it to eliminate the bad stuff (well bad for me at least) and used raspberry where she used strawberry because I prefer it and its what we had on hand.
To be honest... I will probably make them again for Valentines Day (when I will be in London...even more of a reason to make scones).

Raspberry and Rosemary Scones
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour (same thing as tapioca starch)
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt
6 tablespoons vegan butter (I use Earth Balance) cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup coconut milk
about 1/3 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

First combine the three flours, xanthum gum, baking powder cane juice, salt, and rosemary and whisk together.

Next add in the vegan butter and cut in until it looks like a coarse meal.

Now add in the coconut milk slowly and stir in.

Spoon dough onto a greased cookie sheet about an inch or two apart. Indent the center of each spoonful of dough and place about a teaspoon of jam into indentation.

Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool completely.

PJ Breakfast: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

My friend Meredith, with her mom and sister, has started a pajama breakfast tradition when everyone gets home from college for christmas break. We all go over there, dressed in our pajamas and have a fabulous breakfast that her and her mom prepare. This year I wanted to be able to contribute, so I decide I would whip up some mini muffins to take with me. I am personally a huge fan of anything pumpkin flavored so I thought that would be a good place to start. And what's a better combination than pumpkin and chocolate? It's always a crowd pleaser.

Meredith also has the cutest 1 1/2 year old daughter and she guzzled down a few of these mini muffins before breakfast even started, so apparently I am not the only one who loves pumpkin and chocolate together.
These came out a little lumpy looking and pretty gooey but they are really tasty. And in addition to being gluten and dairy free, they are also refined sugar free so they do not spike your blood sugar and sustain you for longer. This makes them a healthier option without tasting healthy in the least.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 (16oz) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 cup chocolate chips (I like enjoy life allergy-free chocolate chips because they are miniature so they distribute more evenly throughout the batter)
2/3 cup agave nectar
2 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line mini muffin pans with mini cupcake papers. I filled 48 mini muffin cups and had extra batter. (I am not sure how many muffins this actually makes because I ran out of muffin pans).

Sift together the three flours, xanthum gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Once sifted together, give the dry ingredients a quick whisk, to mix again.

Next, add in the pumpkin, eggs, agave nectar, and coconut oil and mix with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Then add in vanilla and mix again. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Use a spoon to fill each of the mini muffin cups with batter, almost to the top then bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out completely clean and the muffins are golden and lightly crusted on top.

Let cool completely before eating or transferring to another plate. In fact these muffins taste even better the next day because they become more muffin-consistency as they sit.

And here is a picture of my favorite slippers and the muffins ready to head out to the breakfast. Can just mention again how obsessed I am with this tradition? I wish I could wear pajamas everywhere.

PS: I think I have had a break-through about gluten free flours. In the past I have had issues with gluten-free baked goods tasting sort of metallicish (yep, I made a new word). After I did some research courtesy of google, I discovered that it is most likely bean flours that give this metallic taste. It also turns out that Bob's Red Mill all-purpose flour consists of bean flours. Don't get me wrong, those pre-made mixes are very convenient and I thank Bob's Red Mill for all of the flours that make for us gluten-free folk, but I am too sensitive to that metallic taste to keep using bean flours.
So, now I am into sorghum and almond flour. But of course, with gluten-free baking you pretty much always need to combine more than one flour, so thats how I decided to combine my new favorite flours with a starch to come up with my own baking mix for this recipe. I plan on testing out more mixes in the upcoming days so I will keep ya'll posted.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

For a Cold Night In: Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

I have recently come home from college for winter break and thus far that has meant sleeping and watching TV and not doing too much else. Today, however, I woke up with the urge to cook. I went to whole foods and bought the ingredients I needed, and when I got home I began a cooking frenzy with my beautiful puppy loyally by my side. I only took 2 short breaks. The first to watch part of Twilight: Eclipse with my sister (please refrain from passing judgement on my movie choice) and the second to go to the orthodontist. Since its cold outside, though not near as cold as DC, and all I want to do is watch christmas movies, my mom and I decided soups would be fun to make. This was he first one and it is really tasty. It is hearty and just the right amount of spice, perfect for a dark winter evening.

Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

3 1/2 pound cubed butternut squash (1-inch cubes)
1 1/2 sweet onions
2 McIntosh apples
3 tablespoons olive oil
celtic sea salt
4 cups chicken stock
3 teaspoons Thai red curry paste

First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. This will be for roasting the squash, apple, and onion.

Next, cut the squash, apples, and onions into 1 inch cubes. Place all three on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss so that everything is evenly coated. Now you will want to spread this mixture out onto two baking sheets lightly coated with cooking spray so that the vegetable mixture is in thin layer on the sheets. Roast this for about 35 minutes.

When it is done roasting, scrape it off the pan and place it in a large pot. Add a little bit of the chicken stock over medium-low heat and mix with an immersion blender. If you do not have one, you can do these next steps in a blender or food processor. Once you have mixed up the squash until it is pureed. Add more stock and blend again. Keep doing this a little bit at a time until all of the stock is incorporated. At this point, add in the curry paste, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix again so that it is all evenly distributed. Mix until it is a creamy, thick soup and is evenly colored. Keep over heat until it is warm and then place in individual bowls.

To garnish you can ad a couple sprigs of rosemary or homemade croutons.

To make the croutons you can melt vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) and mix in garlic powder. Then drizzle this over cubes of gluten free bread and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Then turn the oven to broil and let the bread crisp for a minute or two, watching it carefully so that it doesn't burn.

I hope you enjoy the soup! And look forward to more fantastic soup recipes coming in the near future :-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Recipe Clean Out

So, the redesign of this blog is coming along slowly, but I promise I'm working on it! As sad as it's making me, I decided that I need to get rid of all of the gluten and dairy containing recipes that I have posted throughout the past year. Not that I don't love them, and trust me I will miss them, but since I am making this blog completely gluten and dairy free I do not want all my past posts to trick my readers.

This purge may take awhile, since I want to make sure that everything is well documented for my personal records, but I hope to have it done by the New Year.

Just because these old recipes will no longer be on here, however, does not mean that they wont still be out there somewhere in the this beautiful thing we call the Internet. I am posting both allergen free and all my other recipes to Hopefully, I will be able to get all of the recipes I delete off of here onto that account soon. Oh, and any recipes that I can make small changes to in order to fit my new allergies will be updated and stay on!

I only have 5 days and 3 finals to go for the end of the semester, then I get to head home and commence the joy of holiday cooking. So, expect great recipes to come when I have loads of free time and a well-stocked kitchen to work with!

And wish me luck on finals, my brain is crammed to capacity full of facts about earlier embryonic development, cell differentiation, epidemiological statistics, and economics. I think it may explode any day now.

Much Love!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Back in Action

Dear Readers,

First of all, I am sorry it has been so long since my last post. As some of you know I was in Kenya most of the summer (which was incredible, by the way) then school started, which has proven to be my toughest semester yet. I took extra hours, got a new job, started a new editor position with our online newsmagazine and was training to be an aerobics instructor. Now that the semester is coming to a close, I am reader to start posting once again!

As I said two posts ago, I now no longer eat anything with gluten or dairy. Even though I still cook for my non-allergy friends and family, I do not want to recommend any recipes that I cannot personally recommend, so the recipes on this blog will almost entirely be gluten and dairy free but none less tasty.

I am also working on redesigning and editing, so it may change from time to time. And lastly, I have finally figured out more of the manual settings on my camera, so hopefully my photography has improved and will continue to improve.

To kick-start the restart to my blog I will pass on a recipe my mom and I made today from the Babycakes cookbook made by the owner of the famous New York bakery. It's a simple chocolate cookie but its so soft and delicious.

Babycakes Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup coconut oil
6 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups evaporated cane juice
2 cups Bob's Red Mills gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthum gum
1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Now, take out two medium bowls. In the first bowl mix together the coconut oil, applesauce, salt, vanilla, and evaporated cane juice. In the other bowl, mix together the flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, and xanthum gum.

Using a rubber spatula, gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until a grainy dough is formed. Next fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a spoon, place small balls of dough one inch apart on the baking sheets. Once dough is placed, gently press the dough down using the back of the spoon.

Bake the cookies on the center rack of the oven for 15 minutes. After 9 minutes, rotate the trays 180 degrees so that they bake evenly.

Lastly, let cool on the sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. You can store these in an airtight container for up to three days at room temperature.

Now all you have to do is enjoy and share! Trust me, if you don't tell anyone they are gluten -free and vegan then no one will ever know (my family didn't!).

Friday, May 21, 2010


No recipe for this post, sorry everyone! I just wanted to let my readers know that I will not be posting anything for about 2 months. I am participating in the Journey 2010 internship and will be traveling to Kenya without my computer and definitely without a kitchen. But never fear, I am planning on coming back with fresh inspiration for this blog.

If you want to follow how the internship is going, our group has a blog that our leaders will update every other day. It is

Many of you have been supporting me in various ways throughout this process and for that I thank you sincerely! I am sad that my blogging will have to be put on hold but I am so excited for this experience that I cannot even adequately express it.

I guess I will talk to you again in 2 months :)

Kwa Heri (goodbye in Swahili)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Going Gluten Free :(

I went to the doctor/nutritionist a couple of days ago to retrieve the results of a test I sent in awhile back. For any of you that know me well, you know that I am a bit of a medical anomaly. Anyway, it turns out I am allergic to dairy and gluten and then the doctor started throwing words around like hormone overload, insulin, potential diabetes, and major dietary changes. Needless to say I was totally freaked. The good news is that no permanent damage has been done and everything can be fixed. The bad news is I have to remove all dairy and gluten from my diet. This is hard for anybody, but to me it almost seems impossible for a college student who eats out most of the time and who is always eating with people. Seemingly impossible or not, however, it has to be done. So, after throwing myself a pity party, I began researching.

I must admit I am really lucky because I have already had some gluten/dairy free angels brought into my life who have started helping me figure out the new diet. My love for cooking will also come in handy. I am trying to look at it as just another cooking/baking challenge. This means that this blog will largely be Gluten and dairy free in the future, but trust me I will make sure everything tastes just as good as the original would have been. My first gluten and dairy free project post diagnosis was VANILLA CORNBREAD. I found it on the Gluten-free Goddess Blog and it is really good!

Gluten/Dairy Free Sweet Vanilla Cornbread
2 1/4 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup very warm water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper (including sides).

Mix the first 7 ingredients together, then add in the remaining 4. The batter should be the consistency of a thick cake or muffin batter. If it is too thick, you can add a couple of tablespoons of water.

Pour the batter into the pan and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the center is set and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let sit at least 15 minutes before cutting so that it doesn't crumble. You can serve with whipped cream, fruit, or just plain.

A few notes:
* If you can't find the cornbread mix, you can use 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornmeal, 3/4 cup sorghum flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch or potato starch, and 1 teaspoon xanthum gum
*To make the recipe vegan, you can replace the 2 eggs with 1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 1/4 cup warm water till its frothy

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Langostino Scampi Pasta

The other night my roommate Morgen and I wanted to make shrimp scampi for dinner, so after we picked up FREE cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes (yes, you should be jealous). We stopped by Marvelous Market to get sourdough bread and then Trader Joe's to get the rest of the things we needed.
While we were looking around TJ's we saw frozen cooked langostino, and they looked good, so we decided why not just try that. Then, I became curious about what a langostino is exactly so I consulted the ever-useful Wikipedia when we got back to the room. They are small lobster or crawfish like animals and apparently what the original scampi was made with- Perfect!

Langostino Scampi Pasta
1 pound brown rice linguini or spaghetti
4 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound cooked langostino tails (can easily be found pre-cooked and frozen)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

To start the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil then add salt and pasta. Stir the pasta to separate then cover the pot. Once the water comes back to a boil, cook for about 6-8 minutes, until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta and reserve a cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Then add the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes and saute until shallots are translucent (about 3-4 minutes). Season the tails with salt and pepper and add to the sauce to heat and absorb the flavors (about 2 minutes). Remove the tails then add in the lemon juice and wine. Bring to a boil then add the remaining butter and oil. Once the butter has melted, add the tails back in as well as the parsley, pasta, and pasta water. Stir well and season with additional salt and pepper.

**This post was edited on 12/12/10 to make it gluten and dairy free.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

4 (or 3) ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

It's no secret that I have a ridiculous sweet tooth or an even more ridiculous obsession with peanut butter. These cookies satisfy both. The only bad thing about them is I could eat them until I'm sick- not so good.
Peanut butter cookies have always reminded me of my friend Meredith because she would bring them to our Girl Scout Cookie Swap every year when we were younger. We re-found this recipe when she came over to bake cookies to ship to her friend for her birthday.

This is a perfect recipe for college students or young professionals, etc. with no time and an ill-equipped pantry. There are only 4 ingredients (1 being somewhat optional), take no time at all to prep and bake super quickly.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda (I have seen it done without this and apparently it still works, making it a 3 ingredient cookie)

Blend together the peanut butter and sugar. Add the baking soda and blend again. Add the egg and blend again. Now, roll the dough into balls about an inch in diameter. Place on a greased cookie sheet and press down with fork in a criss-cross pattern (press down one way then the other way perpendicular to those lines). Sprinkle each cookie with additional sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until the cookie is a little cracked and slightly golden. Let cool to harden. Be careful when removing the cookies from the baking sheet because they can be quite crumbly.
Another way to make these cookies, and the way Meredith always made them for our cookie swaps, is to roll the dough into balls and roll the balls into additional sugar. Place the dough balls onto a greased baking sheet and bake until they start to crack. Press an unwrapped Hershey's kiss into the center of each cookie. Place the cookies back in the oven for 1 more minute. Then remove and let cool completely.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Inspired by Italy: Mediterranean Salmon and Herbed Polenta

My friend Nathan came over for dinner tonight and since D.C. looks more like the north pole than the mid-atlantic right now I thought that a mediterranean meal would be a nice escape from the cold. The salmon recipe was given to me by my mom and polenta has been something I have wanted to try. I had never made polenta before, in fact I had never even eaten it, but I saw this recipe from Giada and thought I'd give it a try. I have now decided that Polenta may be one of my new favorite foods. It reminds me of a mix between mashed potatoes and grits- two of the most comforting foods. Both recipes are pretty quick and easy as well, and cooking the salmon in foil means easy clean-up after!

Mediterranean Salmon
4 salmon fillets
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
2 oz reduced-fat basil and tomato feta cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place each fillet on a greased piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle each with lemon pepper, dill, and salt. Top with the remaining ingredients. Fold the aluminum foil into packets and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. For a more rustic dinner you can serve straight from the foil or you can remove onto a plate.

Parmesan and Herb Polenta
6 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Bring water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Gradually whisk in cornmeal, then reduce to low and cook until thick and tender (about 15 min). Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan, milk, butter, herbs, and pepper.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pseudo Gourmet: Salmon Croquettes

Here's a recipe that can be served as fancy (at least in my definition of the word) appetizer or if you make them a little bigger a nice entree. The best part about these croquettes is that they are made out of common and cheap ingredients. I can also confirm that they refrigerate well and taste good as leftovers. So whether you want a casual dinner for yourself or something to serve as cute party food this recipe works well.

Salmon Croquettes
1 (7 oz) can salmon
2 green onions, chopped fine
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup corn meal breading or gluten free bread crumbs
olive oil, for sauteing

In a large bowl, combine the salmon, onions, dijon mustard, eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup gluten free crumbs. When adding the salmon, drain the juice and flake with a fork.

Form the mixture into 10 rounds and set on a plate or baking sheet to rest for 15 minutes.

Heat up enough olive oil to cover a pan over medium-low heat to a simmer. Add the salmon croquettes a few at a time, frying on each side for about 3 minutes.

Once fried, remove onto a plate covered in paper towels to drain some of the grease.

**This post was edited on 12/12/10 to make it gluten and dairy free

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eggplant: A Vegetarian's Best Friend

It wasn't until I stopped eating meat that I discovered eggplant. Now, I love it. It's just so versatile. You can use it as a meat substitute, stuff it, cut it up and put it in anything, or bread it and smother it with cheese to make Eggplant Parm. In this recipe, however, the eggplant really shines on its own. This recipe works well for the holiday season because of its colors, but would also work well in Spring and Summer because of the fresh flavors. It can be used as a side, but I prefer it as a beautiful main dish. 

Cumin Scented Eggplant with Pomegranate and Cilantro
5 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2 lbs. eggplant (about 2 medium) cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices
olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
2 garlic cloves, minced
pomegranate syrup (recipe follows)
2/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

Stir salt into water in a large bowl or casserole dish until dissolved. Soak eggplant for an hour, flipping over halfway through the soak. Drain and pat dry. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Heat a thin coating of oil in a large skillet and saute eggplant over medium-high heat until there are brown spots and softened (about 2 minutes per side). Do this in batches adding more oil as needed until all are done.

Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Mix cumin and cayenne pepper together and sprinkle over the eggplant. Put in the oven and roast until golden and cooked through (about 30 minutes).

While eggplant is roasting, create the pomegranate syrup: combine 1 cup pomegranate juice, 12 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. 
Stir until sugar completely dissolves. Allow to cook on medium-high for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and the syrup will thicken as it cools. 

Also, mix together pomegranate seeds, cilantro, and garlic in a separate, small bowl. 

Once eggplant is roasted, remove from oven and sprinkle with the cilantro, pomegranate seed, and garlic mixture, then drizzle with pomegranate syrup. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back to My Tiny DC Kitchen: Berry Vanilla Oatmeal

Since the creation of my blog, a lot of my cooking has been done in my parent's large and well-equipped kitchen because I was home for the holidays. I LOVE cooking in that kitchen. I also kind of love cooking in my little dorm-room kitchen as well because it always presents new challenges. No counter space? I bring in the chair from the living room as an extra work-space. Need another mixing bowl? I use one of my pots. And you can just forget about two people cooking in their at once. To show you that I am not exaggerating when I say my kitchen is tiny, I took a couple of pictures:
Now, think back to one of my holiday posts where I posted a picture of my parents' kitchen. There is quite a difference! In fact, I'll post the picture again:

This picture doesn't even show the double oven, huge fridge or warming drawer, but you get the idea.

And of course, instead of going to the grocery store every time I want to try a new recipe, I have learned that substitutions are key. This is also an important lesson for me because the Watergate Safeway where I shop isn't necessarily the best-stocked grocery store I've ever come accross.

That's what I had to do for this recipe which I got from Ellie Krieger from Food Network. It is a healthy, quick, and tasty breakfast that you can easily make on a weekday morning and even have the leftovers later in the week.

Berry Vanilla Oatmeal
*This was originally Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal but Safeway didn't have dried cherries or cherry preserves so I played with the recipe a little

1 3/4 cups water
1 cup gluten free oats
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons raspberry preserves
1/4 cup almond milk
--you can obviously substitute with any kind of dried berry, preserves, and milk that you prefer or whatever you have on hand--

Put water, oats, salt, and dried cranberries into a medium sized sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes for old fashioned oats and 1 minute for quick cooking oats. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and preserves. Put the oatmeal into bowls and pour 2 tablespoons milk over each bowl. This recipe makes 2 large servings.
**This post was edited on 12/12/10 to make it gluten and dairy free

Friday, January 15, 2010

On the Lighter Side: Vegan Lasagna

When looking for something to serve for Christmas Eve dinner, we decided on a classic family favorite- lasagna. So, the search for such a lasagna recipe began. Where do I look first? of course, only the most addicting website to anyone interested in cooking and baking. I simply type dairy free lasagna in the search bar and this is what appears: . Perfect. No meat, no dairy, and seems simple to me. This recipe also works for vegans! And its lighter and healthier than a normal lasagna. I didn't follow the recipe exactly but did use it as a starting point, so here's what I did:
Also, you can use gluten free lasagna noodles. They are not always easy to find but you can definitely order them online or I am sure if you used a different kind of gluten-free pasta you could make a free-form lasagna-like dish that would taste just as good.

Vegan Lasagna
1 28 oz jar marinara sauce
6 uncooked gluten-free lasagna noodles
2 cups sliced vegetables (I suggest eggplant and squash)
1 (12 1/3 oz) container extra-firm tofu, broken up
1 (8 oz) package soy mozzarella, shredded
4 tablespoons vegan parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray and 11x7 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Spread 1/3 of the sauce over the bottom of the dish. arrange 3 noodles over the sauce in a single layer. Add another 1/3 of the sauce, all of the veggies, all of the tofu, and half of the mozzarella. Then, top with the 3 remaining uncooked noodles in a single layer. Spread evenly with remaining sauce. Cover with foil and bake for about an hour. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes until cheese melts.

Sorry no picture for this one!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


One of my new favorite foods is Risotto. It is tasty, versatile, and relatively easy to make. It goes well as a side dish for almost anything and can be made to be pretty healthy. I am listing three different recipes, a fancy risotto, a fun risotto, and one that is super easy and cheap. Traditionally making risotto requires both wine and parmesan cheese, so in that since only the first recipe is a true risotto, but the other two are made in the same way and taste just as good to me but are simpler and require less ingredients.

First, the fancy risotto... recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentiis. I made this with my friend Bethany, again using her Tanzanian vanilla bean, and we had some of our friends over and none of it was left by the end of the night- that's how good it is.

Vanilla Butternut Squash Risotto
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large vanilla bean
3 cups peeled, cubed (i-inch wide) butternut squash (12 oz)
2 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance), plus 1 tablespoon
3/4 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 red onion or 1/2 vidalia onion)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup dairy free cheese of choice *optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (optional)
In a medium saucepan, warm the broth over medium-high heat and cut the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the seeds from the bean into the broth and then add the bean to the broth as well. When it comes to a simmer, reduce heat to low and add the squash cooking until tender (about 5 minutes), then remove into a side dish. Reduce the heat to very low and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, add onion and saute until tender but not brown ( 3 minutes). Add rice and stir to coat, then add wine and simmer until almost evaporated (3 minutes). Add a half a cup of the heated broth at a time, until absorbed (2 minutes). Once the last of the broth is absorbed test rice and if it is no yet tender add water and continue process until the rice is tender.

Once ready, remove the bean and toss in the squash, cheese if desired, salt, 1 tablespoon butter, and optional chives.
Now, it's time for the fun risotto. It is served in a hollowed out lemon cup. It is really cute and would be good served at a luncheon or a light summer meal. Serving in the lemon cup also helps with portion control for all of you out there who are trying to keep New Year's resolutions. This recipe is also from Giada, but simplified and made healthier by leaving out the cheeses.

Risotto in a Lemon Cup
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1 large shallot, diced
3 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 a lemon, zested and juiced
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
6 lemons, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth and 1/2 up water to a simmer, cover, and keep hot over low heat.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add shallot and saute until tender but not brown (about 3 minutes). Add the rice and stir to thoroughly coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated (3 minutes). Then add 1/2 cup broth at a time adding water and continuing if necessary, just like the process used in the previous risotto.

When done, stir in remaining butter, lemon juice, and zest, salt, and pepper.

To serve, cut 1/4 inch off of the bottom of each lemon so that they stand on their own. Then, cut i inch off of the top of each and scoop out the flesh. Fill each hollowed lemon with about 1/2 cup risotto.
Last Risotto... This is the easiest risotto. It doesn't require wine and the ingredients are simple and cheap, yet it tastes just as good in my opinion. You can also change this recipe around easily to fit your tastes. You can substitute the vegetable broth with chicken broth or switch up the vegetables you use. I have added broccoli and that worked as well. I have also heard that you can do this in a rice cooker as well if you don't want to watch the pot. I have not tried it but if anyone does, let me know how it works out.

Simple Asparagus Risotto
1 tablespoon vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
3/4 lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch long lengths
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 cups vegetable broth
salt, to taste
Heat broth in a saucepan, covering to keep warm over low heat.

In a separate pan, melt butter add onions on medium-low heat. Cook 4 minutes, then add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add rice and stir until well coated. Ad 1/2 cup broth, stirring until absorbed. Add asparagus.

Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, till absorbed each time (20-25 minutes). Add water and continue process as necessary. Add salt to taste.
*This post was edited on 12/12/10 to make it gluten and dairy free.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chai Berry Muffins: Vegan

The other night I was watching a new Food Network show called Cupcake Wars. The show wasn't really as exciting as it originally sounded to me but one of the judges seemed really cool. She is covered in tattoos, loves punk rock, and loves to bake-especially cupcakes. Seemed like a strange combination to me, but I loved it, so I grabbed my computer and looked up her blog. It's awesome! It's called Bake and Destroy; I put it on my list of blogs on the side of the page but here it is again just in case: My favorite part is her tagline- the food blog equivalent to a punch in the throat. I love the attitude!

I wasn't really looking for another cupcake recipe because I've made a lot of them recently but she does other things as well, including muffins. I saw one that immediately caught my eye. Vegan Berry Chai Muffins- Yum.

I was intrigued by the fact that they are vegan since I feel like more and more people in my life are discovering their food allergies. I love cooking and baking for people so I am currently exploring ways to omit some of these allergens. Thats why I decided to take it a step further and make them both vegan and gluten-free.

First I made the original recipe but didn't like them, partly because simply substituting gluten-free flour made them too crumbly and partly because they had a little too much spice for my taste so I cut out the cloves and cut back on some of the other spices plus added xanthum gum as an additional binding agent for the gluten-free flour. I really liked how the second batch turned out, so here is the revised recipe:

Chai Berry Muffins
2 bags Earl Grey tea
3/4 cup soy milk
1 3/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
2/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch white pepper
1/3 cup canola oil
2 1/2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
3 tablespoons water
1 cup frozen berries *I used blackberries and blueberries from my Papa's farm :)
Start by heating the soy milk over the stove until just before boiling. Remove from the heat and and step the tea bags in it for 4 minutes. Then remove the tea bags and let the milk cool.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, xanthum gum, baking powder, sugar, spices, salt and pepper. Then, add in the frozen berries.
In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed meal and water making a paste. Add this to the dry ingredients along with the milk and oil. Stir just until mixed. The batter will be somewhat lumpy. Now, pour the batter into 12 lined muffin cups.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Let cool for at least a minute before removing from the pan. Then enjoy :) I could be wrong, but even though they don't have any dairy or gluten I think they taste good on normal muffin standards.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon ala Julia Child

Considering that I love to cook, it might be somewhat shocking that I had never seen the movie Julie and Julia- that is until the beginning of this break. When I got home, we ordered it on On Demand and I fell absolutely in love with it. Not only because of its culinary content, but also because of my love for Meryl Streep and the adorable relationships between the characters. The day I spent making our Christmas dinner party menu, my mom even bought me the movie as an early christmas present so we could watch it while we were cooking. A few days before Christmas, my mom and I went to her friend Sandra's house to drop off some baked goods, and she was actually making Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. After seeing the movie, I was left with the impression that the dish was impossibly difficult and time consuming. But Sandra said it was manageable and that she would copy the recipe for me. Making the dish became my goal for the break-I was determined. And then I was even more excited when I opened up my presents Christmas morning and among them was THE cookbook. A couple days after Christmas I went out of town so I couldn't make it for awhile, but today I finally got around to make it. It was time consuming but also relaxing and somewhat therapeutic. I've been a little sick the past couple of days so it gave me something to do while trapped in my house.

So dragging myself out of the house, I first went to Marshalls and used Christmas money to pick up my first Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish in a beautiful blue- I was probably far too excited about a pot than someone my age should be but oh well. The best thing about it is that it can go from stove to oven and then is pretty enough to go straight to the table as a serving dish, which is important in a small kitchen with hardly any storage and where you have to hand wash all of your dishes.

Then, I went to Harry's Farmer's Market and picked up what I needed, including locally raised, grass fed beef. If you read my about me, I know what you must be thinking- you don't eat beef, right? Well... I have recently decided that I am going to try meat again for a little while but limiting myself to only organic, local, and grass fed. I made this decision for two main reasons- health and so that I can cook with more variety and actually eat it.

**Hey again, so just updated this recipe to ensure that it is gluten and dairy free. It required only very minor changes so I do not think Julia would be too upset. Enjoy! (12/12/10)

Ok, enough explanation. Here is the recipe:

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon

A 6-ounce chunk of bacon (including rind)
1 tablespoon olive
oil or cooking oil
3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2 inch cubes (rump p
ot roast or chuck pot roast)
1 large sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
3 cups red wine
2-3 cups brown beef stock
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
*18- 24 brown-braised onions (recipe follows)
* 1 lb mushrooms sauteed in butter (recipe follows)

First, remove rind from bacon (put it to the side) and cut the chunk of bacon into lardons, or sticks 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long. Simmer the bacon and the rind in 1 1/2 quarts of water for 10 minutes, then drain and dry.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

In the cast iron dish, saute the bacon in the oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes to brown it slightly then remove into a side dish with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the dish. Now, dry the beef in paper towels so that it can brown properly and saute it a few pieces at a time in the hot oil and bacon grease until all sides are browned. Add the browned beef to the side dish with the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Take off of the heat. If a good amount of grease remains, pour it out and then return the beef and bacon to the casserole dish with the browned vegetables. Toss with salt and pepper, sprinkle on the flour, and toss again. Set the dish uncovered in the middle position in the oven for 4 minutes then take out, toss the meat and return to oven for 4 more minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 325 degrees F.

Add the wine to the dish then enough of the beef stock to just barely cover the meat. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole dish and set in the lower third of the oven. Leave in for 2 1/2-3 hours and the meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms:

Oignons Glaces A Brun
18-24 peeled white onions (about 1 inch in diameter)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup brown beef stock
salt and pepper to taste
A medium herb bouquet: 4 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth with kitchen twine

When the butter and the oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions occasionally so that they brown as evenly as possible. Then, pour in the stock, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes until onions are tender and liquid is evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions in a side dish.

Champignons Sautes au Beurre
2 tablespoons vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 lb fresh button mushrooms, stems removed and halved
2 tablespoons minced shallots

Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and the oil. When the foaming of the butter subsides, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake in the pan for 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Toss in the shallots and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the mushrooms and shallots to the side dish with the brown-braised onions. Set this side dish aside until you are ready to add these vegetables to the stew.

Back to the stew... when the beef is tender, pour the contents of the casserole dish into a sieve set over a sauce pan, so that he meat and vegetables are separated from the stock. Wash out the dish then return the meat and vegetables to it. Distribute the sauteed mushrooms and brown-braised onions over the meat.

Place the sauce pan with the drained stock over the stove, skim the fat off of the top, and simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes, removing fat as it arises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. I too thin, boil it down rapidly, and if too thick, add more stock. Taste carefully for seasoning and when ready pour a little of the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

Cover the casserole and simmer for 2-3 minutes basting with the rest of the sauce a little at a time. Serve from dish with potatoes as a side dish. May i suggest Ina Garten's Dill Fingerling potatoes?...

Dill Fingerling Potatoes
1 1/4 lb fingerling potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan then add the potatoes, salt, and pepper and toss well. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes shaking and tossing occasionally until potatoes are tender when tested with a small knife. Take off of the heat and let them steam with the cover on for 5 minutes. Then toss with the dill and serve.

To finish off the meal, all I did was serve some leftover green bean bundles with the stew and potatoes and it seemed to be a hit! A long day in the kitchen, but nothing in itself was too challenging so I enjoyed it.