Monday, June 9, 2014

Perfect Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I started eating gluten-free again, my regular cookie recipe would taste amazing, but sometimes the cookies would be really flat and not rise at all. I began experimenting and found this amazing gluten-free flour mixture, and I experimented with the amount used in the recipe. The result of all my sacrificial cooking is this Perfect Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. This is a double recipe (I figure if you're
going to do the work, then let's have lots!). If I don't have time to bake all this dough, I'll keep it in the freezer for whenever I want to eat the dough--I mean, bake more cookies. From the freezer, I leave the dough out for about 5 minutes, then it's ready to use and bakes the same as freshly made dough. This recipe uses Crisco, which is dairy-free, and if you use dairy-free chocolate chips, then it's all the way dairy-free. I
personally am okay with the semi-sweet chips, so I use those.

2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks Crisco Baking Sticks Butter Flavor All-Vegetable Shortening or 1 1/2 cups shortening
4 tablespoons unsweetened, vanilla-flavored almond milk or other non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend*
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 and a half bags (18 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375°F.

Combine shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in eggs. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (that's what I use).

Bake for 10 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Tips: I got the uniform size on my cookies by using a cookie scoop (size 24). If you don't have one of these, then use a round tablespoon and a spoon to gently scoop out the dough. Also, I recommend using a stand mixer if you have one since this is a double batch. I have not made this recipe with a hand mixer.

*Gluten-free flour mixture
4 cups brown rice flour
1 1/3 cups tapioca flour
2/3 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons xanthan gum

I combine the ingredients in a gallon-size zip bag and mix it well with a whisk. This chocolate chip recipe will use almost all of this flour mixture. For my local readers, all the ingredients for the gluten-free flour mixture are available at Winco in the bulk section. The potato starch is packaged and available at Walmart or Whole Foods.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup

Before I was told that I need to eat healthy food that won't cause inflammation (back when I was eating wheat, dairy, corn, etc.,) I thought butternut squash was that weird stuff that my mom would make instead of spaghetti noodles. What I didn't know was that I love butternut squash; therefore, I LOVE this soup. I will say that butternut squash does take quite a while to peel and chop, so plan time for that, but it's worth the work.

If you’ll notice, I stuck a spinach leaf in the soup for the picture, but you really could throw a handful of spinach into the soup, let the hot soup wilt it, and eat it with the soup. It’s a great way to eat more greens.

Butternut Squash Soup
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large sweet onions, peeled and roughly chopped (about 3 cups)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 6 cups)
4 cups chicken stock, warmed (or vegetable stock to make it vegan)

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add the salt and pepper and stir. Add the squash and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the warmed stock into the pot—if it doesn’t quite cover the squash, add some boiling water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook until the squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

If you have an immersion blender, use that to blend the soup. If not, use a blender being careful to let the soup cool first, and then blend it in batches. Season with more salt to taste.

-Recipe from My Father’s Daughter  by Gwyneth Paltrow

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Salmon Beet Salad

Salmon Beet Salad
It’s winter here, so I bake the salmon; if you wanted to grill it that would work too. I've enjoyed this salad as a lunch just for myself or as a dinner with the family. As you assemble the salad, I recommend salting the cucumbers and beets. I like to make sure there’s salt on my raw vegetables without adding a ton of salt to just the top of the salad.

2 large beets
3 medium zucchini, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 cucumber sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch green onions, dark ends discarded
2 6-ounce wild salmon fillets
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (iodine-free)
1 head of Romaine lettuce or butter lettuce, washed, dried and cut into thick strips
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup Balsamic and Lime Vinaigrette (see below)
1 lime, quartered for serving

Preheat oven to 425.
Steam or boil the beets until cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Let them sit until cool enough to handle and then peel them and cut into a small dice.
While the beets steam, drizzle the salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. I like to put my salmon on my silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet so there’s no risk of it sticking to the pan (parchment paper would work too). Start the salmon baking at 425 for 14 minutes or until done.
In a large skillet, heat about 1 Tablespoon olive oil and sauté zucchini and green onions. Salt and pepper to taste.  Next prep the lettuce and cilantro and make the dressing.
When the salmon is done, break it into pieces. Now that everything is chopped or in pieces, assemble the salad. Lay down the lettuce leaves on each plate and top with beets, zucchini, green onions, cucumber, salmon, and cilantro. Drizzle the lime vinaigrette over the salad and serve with lime wedges.

*Balsamic Lime Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Put all the ingredients in a jar or bowl and whisk. I refrigerate leftovers and then take the dressing out about 20 minutes before I need it so the oil can get into a liquid state again.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Vegan, Gluten-Free Chocolate Mint Cookies

I didn't post for the whole half of last year since I found out I again have multiple food allergies (wheat, dairy, corn, eggs, soy) and I also need to avoid certain other foods to keep myself healthy (more on that later). I've spent the past 6 months figuring out what to eat that won't hurt my body and how to make it taste good, and I'm ready to share with you!

This is about the fourth vegan and gluten-free recipe I've tried, and I have to say I’m so pleased that I have got the hang of baking without eggs! I made this recipe based off two other recipes, and it is a keeper. These cookies stay together so well and taste so good!
Gluten-Free and Vegan Chocolate Mint Cookies
1 ¼ c. butter flavored shortening (like Crisco)
1 c. white sugar
½ c. brown sugar
4 Tablespoons non-dairy milk (like Almond milk, I use vanilla-flavored, unsweetened)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free flour mix*
1 ½ teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum if avoiding corn
¾ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups mint chips (get dairy-free mint chips or substitute with another vegan/dairy-free chip, like a carob chip; or use a dark chocolate vegan bar and it break up into small pieces and use it like chips) *confession: my mint chips had a tiny bit of whey in it, but I found this acceptable for the holidays.

1.       Heat oven to 350
2.       In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars together until light and fluffy.
3.       Add non-dairy milk and vanilla; beat well.
4.       Combine flour, xanthan gum, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
5.       Gradually blend into creamed mixture. Stir in mint chips.
6.       Drop by Tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. (I use parchment or a silicone baking mat on my cookie sheets.) Bake 8-9 minutes. (Do not over bake; cookies will be soft.)
7.       Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet onto wire rack; let cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen
-Dairy free option
-Gluten free
-Egg free
-Soy free
-Corn free option

*This mix of flours is good for cookies, cakes, brownies, and gravy; I make at least two batches at a time, mix it up and keep it in a bag or glass jar. Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum does need to be added if making something like cookies, brownies, breads, that need to stay together (1/2 teaspoon per cup of gluten-free flour mixture).
2 cups extra fine brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1/3 cup tapioca flour