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!