12.28.2012

Pork Chili Verde

I cannot recall where I got this recipe from. If I could I would certainly give credit where credit is due. Certainly.


Either way it's a delicious recipe. My husband even likes it. And he's of a pretty traditional mindset when it comes to the all-mighty Chili. He's one of those "chili should contain beans, meat, and tomato sauce" kind of folk. Me? Well let's just say my parents probably should have made my middle name "Experiment" - not Jean.


Don't get me wrong. I love a traditional, steaming, hearty bowl of good ol' fashioned chili. But I also like to mix it up a bit. You know, just to keep things fresh. Vegetarian chili, chicken chili, sweet potato chili - you name it, I've probably cooked it up. But this one has a particularly unique flavor.


I'm not sure how authentic this recipe is. But it sure tastes good. That's enough for me. You could easily do this in the slow-cooker. I would recommend searing the pork first then just toss everything in the pot for the day - 4-6 hours on High or 8-10 on Low. The spice level of this chili is easy enough to tweak - just adjust the amount of crushed red pepper. The original recipe also calls for crushed coriander, but I prefer Gourmet Garden's Cilantro paste. I would like to take this opportunity to promote Gourmet Garden - if only they'd pay me for these things...


Either way, their products are phenomenal. I usually keep the Cilantro paste, Italian Herb Blend, and Ginger paste in my freezer. Yes, my freezer. They last twice as long and don't freeze up hard. So just pull them out of the freezer when you start cooking and by the time you need it it's thawed just enough to use. They're great - and so much easier than keeping and grating fresh ginger every time I need it. Or having to buy a huge bunch of fresh cilantro for a recipe that only calls for 2 Tbsp. Get my drift?


Serve this up with some gluten-free cornbread (I like this recipe: Fluffy Gluten-free Cornbread), a generous dollop of low-fat sour cream, and some chopped green onions. You could also try a dash of lime juice or some shredded sharp cheddar cheese - delish!

Pork Chili Verde

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Pork Tenderloin, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Leek - sliced, rinsed, and drained
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Gourmet Garden Cilantro paste (or 1 tsp Ground Coriander)
  • 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 4 oz Diced Green Chiles
  • 7 oz Salsa Verde (I like Herdez)
  • 1/4 cup Beef Stock
  • 14 oz Great Northern or Pinto Beans (one BPA-free can or use dried that have been soaked overnight)
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Cook pork, bell pepper and leek - stirring with a wooden spoon - until meat is browned, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, cumin, cilantro/coriander, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in salsa and stock; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.
  4. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, another 1-2 minutes.
Happy gluten-free cooking!


12.26.2012

Nut Teacakes

Christmas just isn't Christmas without cookies. At least, as far as I'm concerned. 



I usually spend the weeks prior to Christmas baking loads of cookies to gift out to family and friends. I carefully hand select my favorite recipes - most of them passed down from family members - and park myself in the kitchen for hours on end.


When I was a kid my aunts would make these little nut tartlets around the holidays that they called Nut Teacakes. These little beauties can be described in one word: "DELICIOUS".

The recipe was given to my mother, then passed to me. See that recipe in the photograph? Handwritten. Oh yeah. But of course, there's no instructions. So I found a similar recipe on Allrecipes.com that had some and figured it out.



When I decided I was going to try and make these gluten-free this year for the holidays, the forces that be decided not to make things so easy for me. I inherited my mother's mini muffin tin when we went to visit back in September. It got packed up in my suitcase, loaded on a plane, and flown from Florida to New York. However, when I packed up everything to take out to my mother-in-law's in Buffalo (where we would be spending Christmas and where I would be doing all my baking), I forgot the darned thing.

It seemed senseless to buy another one when I had a perfectly good one sitting in my cabinet at home. So we tried to find one to borrow. We called grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and friends. One of my husband's aunts thought we meant mini loaf pans and said he could drive over and borrow it. Unfortunately my husband returned with four regular sized muffin tins because of the error. Finally, my mother-in-law called her assistant at work and we were in business!

So, moral of the story - find yourself a mini muffin tin, and make sure you have it in your possession, before you attempt to make these.




Nut Teacakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen

  • 3 ounces Neufchatel (light cream cheese), softened
  • 1 cup Gluten-free Flour blend
  • 1 stick Light Butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Light Butter, melted
  • 1 Egg, large
  • 1/8 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Nuts (pecans or walnuts), chopped
  1. Make Pastry Dough: With a mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Add flour and mix well. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Once thoroughly chilled, divide evenly and roll into 24 balls. Press and shape dough into individual cups of a mini muffin tin. If your tin only holds 12, like mine, put additional dough back into the refrigerator until you're ready for Round 2!
  3. Make Filling: In a medium bowl, measure brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla, nuts and egg. Mix until well blended.
  4. Fill the tart shells, being careful not to overfill. Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes, until crusts are golden brown and filling has set.
Hope your holidays are warm and bright. 
Happy gluten-free baking and...
Happy New Year!


12.21.2012

Perfect Gluten-free Pie Crust

You've seen this recipe before. It can be found under the Cran-apple Crumble Pie post from a little over a month ago. I wanted to set it up as a separate post though. I know I find it frustrating when I have to sort through recipes for one part of it. Besides, this recipe is that good. It totally deserves its own post!



The best recipes are the ones that are handwritten, on index cards or scraps of white lined paper. The ones that are stained with food or aged by time. The ones that are smeared with greasy fingerprints. Oh yes. These make the best recipes indeed.



Why? Because they're time tested. Because they're tried and true. And because they've been passed down, from one friend or family member to the next. They are a piece of history. When my husband and I got married, we struggled over what to give as favors at our reception. I swear it was a harder decision than picking out bridesmaids gowns. We wanted something symbolic, something memorable and meaningful. I can't tell you how many silly little wedding favors I have acquired (or eaten before even getting out of the reception hall) over the years. I think a lot of couples are so hair-brained over all the other details that those little mementos take a back seat. We didn't want that to happen.



Hours of gawking at favor ideas on theKnot.com (mind you, this was before the days of Pinterest) and in issues of Martha Stewart Weddings left me feeling rather hopeless. We thought about tree seedlings, wildflower packets, homemade jam, homemade pickles...the list goes on. And one day, I had a genius breakthrough moment.



A cookbook.



Yep. You heard me. We gave each family or guest that came to our wedding a cookbook. But not just any cookbook. The months prior were spent collecting, scrutinizing, and hand-picking recipes from our extended family and friends. Everyone that was invited was requested to submit a recipe via e-mail or snail mail. We even hunted people down for specific recipes that were absolute must-haves. I compiled them all in a Word document, we had them printed up at Staples, and voila! A wedding favor that continues to stand the test of time. I still pull mine out at least once a month, and hope to share most of those recipes here.



This pie crust recipe came from a friend - I know, I mentioned that in the last post. But I have to say it again. Because those are the best kind. And you know what? I've used this recipe multiple times since I got it, and it has come out perfect EVERY time. Incredible, right? It actually behaves like regular, gluten-full pie dough. See that photo up above - that's gluten-free pie dough. No. Joke.



I recommend using a really good gluten-free flour blend for this recipe. When my girlfriend initially used this recipe, she used King Arthur Gluten-free Multi-purpose Flour. I use a homemade flour blend, courtesy of Gluten Free Girl. I also recommend using a food processor. If you really want, you could do it by hand. But my trusty Cuisinart never fails - best Christmas gift ever Mom!



Please, read the instructions carefully before starting this recipe. Your pie dough needs at least 1 hour to chill out in the fridge, trust me, in fact I let it sit in the fridge overnight. You can make this recipe up to two days in advance as long as it is kept in the refrigerator. Also, use cold butter. Again, trust me. I have never had to use additional water in this recipe, but if you live in a dryer climate or higher altitude it might be necessary. Use your judgement. If the dough doesn't come together, or is crumbly, add water 1 Tbsp at a time until it forms a ball that "rides" on top of your processor blade. See photograph above. It will be slightly more moist than typical pie dough - resist the urge to add more flour!



Perfect Pie Crust

Prep-time: 10 minutes
Yields: 1 9-10" pie crust or 12 tartlets
  • 1 cup Gluten-free Flour blend
  • 1 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar (if sweet - if using for savory, leave out)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt (ONLY if using unsalted butter - if butter is salted, leave out!)
  • 6 Tbsp stick Butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 large Egg, lightly beaten
  • Cold water, as needed
  1. Measure flour, xanthan gum, and sugar and salt (if using) into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the regular blade, or dough blade if you have one. Pulse to combine.
  2. Add butter chunks to mixture, making sure to space out evenly around the bowl. Pulse until mixture resembles small pebbles or coarse crumbs, and butter is well incorporated.
  3. Add the egg and process until combined. The dough will form a ball that will ride on top of the processor blade. If dough is too dry and crumbly, or does not come together, add cold water 1 Tbsp at a time, processing each time until combined. Dough will feel sticky and moist - do not add more flour!
  4. Remove contents of bowl and form the dough into a disk. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or until ready to use (up to two days).
  5. To roll out: lightly flour a flat surface, countertop, or pastry mat. Place dough on surface and dust with flour. Roll into desired shape and size, being careful to flip/rotate the dough and add more flour as needed to prevent from sticking. Make sure to spray your pie plate with cooking spray prior to placing dough inside. Pie crust does not need to be pre-baked unless the recipe you are using requests that you do so.

Happy gluten-free baking!


12.09.2012

Root Vegetable Stew with Gluten-free Dumplings

There's just something about stew and dumplings. It's warm, cozy, comforting - not to mention tastes delicious. How could you possibly go wrong?


I tried this recipe a couple of years ago. 
And loved it. 
Then I went gluten-free. 
Ugh.


Can I just say that the mere thought of gluten-free dumplings pretty much scared me nearly to death. I forewarned my husband:

"I just want you to know that this meal has the potential to be an epic disaster..."


Thankfully - my mother trained me well. We would make dumplings when I was a kid, to go with what I honestly don't remember, but man were they a treat! Soft, pillowy, delightful little balls of comforting goodness. They only showed face during the cold Northeastern winter months, of course. Come summer, any thoughts of dumplings disappeared with the melting winter runoff. I guess that's what makes them special - but if I could have had it my way, we would have been eating dumplings once a week.

Now these are not your run-of-the-mill Southern comfort chicken and dumplings kind of dumplings. These are the kind of dumplings that cook atop bubbling stew within the safety of a tightly closed dutch oven, either on your stovetop or in the oven. These are the dumplings that, once inside the confines of said dutch oven, your mother warned you not to peak at - because lifting the lid might spoil the goodness inside. Basically, they use the steam that is trapped inside the vessel to cook through, so allowing the steam to escape can hamper the cooking process.


I had to tweak the recipe a little bit, but I dare say they turned out pretty darn good. This recipe is pretty easy, but the prep work can be a handful and a half. Use any combination of root vegetables that you like. I have tried this recipe with the addition of golden beets and celeriac and it was delightful. Just make sure that your combination of peeled and chopped roots totals about 2 pounds.

I'd like to take this opportunity to give a little shout out to my good friend the rutabaga. I adore rutabaga. Growing up my mom would make them for my dad, boiled and then mashed with carrots (to add a bit of sweetness). I was afraid to try them until I was a bit older, but once I did I was hooked. They're delicious with a bit of butter or smothered in gravy, depending on your mood of course. Most kids these days don't even know what a rutabaga is. When I moved out to Washington state a few years ago, I tried to make the famous mashed rutabaga dish for my in-laws when they came out for Thanksgiving (and to meet me for the first time!). It was a disaster. I did everything right, except they ended up being bitter and, well, disgustingly inedible. I shamefully covered the dish and hid it in a corner, hoping nobody would notice. When I talked to my parents, my father's response was, "Well you have to wait until after the first frost, the cold helps them sweeten up!"



Newsflash, western Washington winters are, shall we say, mild? It doesn't really frost. Needless to say, I didn't attempt to make rutabagas again while I was living on the West coast. Living here in upstate has its fair share of misery, but at least the ground gets cold enough for fantastic root vegetables. But we're moving back to Washington next year, so I guess I better suck it up.

I used Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage in this recipe as I think it imparts a really great sweetness to the dish. But feel free to use any other kind of sausage that you like, italian style turkey sausages would also work well. I just wouldn't recommend any type of spicy/hot sausage - it just wouldn't work well with the other elements of the stew.

P.S. I recently acquired a new camera, as an early Christmas present from the hubs...so pardon my photos until I get a handle on this DSLR thing ;) I know...some of them are a little blurry...




Root Vegetable Stew with Sausage and Dumplings

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Stew:
  • 4 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 12 oz. Apple Chicken Sausage (I recommend Al Fresco's Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage)
  • 2 lbs Root Vegetables, or 8 oz. each of Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips & Rutabaga - peeled and diced (could also use/sub Golden Beets and Celeriac; if using parsnips, be sure to quarter and remove the woody core)
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Rosemary or Thyme (1 tsp if using dried)
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth, reduced sodium
  • 3 cups Leafy Greens, chopped (kale, turnip greens, collards, beet greens, etc.)
Dumplings:
  • 1 3/4 cups Gluten-free Flour Blend, good quality
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 large Egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup low-fat milk (can use non-dairy)
  1. Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausages and cook, turning occasionally until browned on all sides - about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Using tongs or a fork if necessary, slice into 1/2-inch rounds with a sharp knife.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tsp of oil in the same dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onions until barely tender, about 4 minutes. Add root vegetables and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add garlic and herbs and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in broth and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste now, before the dumplings are added!
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings by whisking together the flour, baking powder, salt, and parsley in a medium bowl. Add the egg and milk and whisk until a smooth batter forms. No need to worry about over-mixing here - no gluten, remember?
  4. When the stew starts to simmer, stir in the greens and the sliced sausage. Return the stew to a simmer. Drop the dumpling batter into the simmering liquid in about 1/4 cup measurements, yielding 8-10 dumplings. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cover the dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Cook, undisturbed, until the dumplings are cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 12-15 minutes.
Nutrition per Serving: 419 Calories; 9g Fat; 2g Saturated Fat; 66g Carbohydrate; 6g Fiber; 17g Protein

*Adapted from Eating Well*


Happy gluten-free cooking!


11.17.2012

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

When I went gluten-free, I had nightmares about never being able to eat my mother's baked macaroni and cheese again. No, seriously.



This dish has been - hands down - my all-time favorite meal for pretty much my whole life. When I moved out on my own, I immediately asked for the recipe, which I think my mother got off of a macaroni box many years ago. It was usually the first (and sometimes only) meal I would make for boyfriends or even just my friends for special occasions. I remember making this mac & cheese in the kitchen of my college dorm when I was away at school. Mom has been making this for as long as I can remember. And now, I make it too.


The recipe has been tweaked a bit over the years - to make it a bit healthier. Now it has been tweaked to be completely gluten-free! It still retains all of its original charm and deliciousness, trust me. Even my husband approved! The hardest lesson I had to learn was not to over bake it. A lesson that only had to be learned once. When cooked right, this dish will maintain the consistency of a stovetop mac and cheese straight out of the oven. It should not be dry...eww.


This recipe uses a simple roux - don't be afraid! And uses regular old store bought gluten-free macaroni and gluten-free flour as the thickener. I also use light butter, lower fat cheese and fat-free milk, but you could certainly use regular fat cheese and whatever type of milk you want. I've even made this recipe in a pinch with arrowroot starch as the thickener and almond milk - so this recipe can easily be made dairy-free with soy cheese if you please.


The cracker crumbs on top really make this dish special. 
Do not give me mac and cheese topped with breadcrumbs. 
Yuck.
In addition, do not give me mac and cheese made with orange cheese - save that for the boxed stuff. Whoever decided that cheddar cheese needed to be orange was simply insane. I only use the sharpest white cheddar I can find. It gives the best flavor.

My mom always used Ritz crackers - full of buttery deliciousness. Unfortunately, Ritz has not hopped aboard the gluten-free train yet. Shame really. So, this time around I used Glutino Original Gluten-free Crackers (the Multigrain or Cheddar ones would work nicely too). They're not Ritz...but they'll work for now!

Feel free to reheat any leftovers in a small saucepan on the stovetop - don't forget to add a little bit of extra milk to loosen it back up. Delish.


Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

  • 2 cups Gluten-free Elbow Macaroni, uncooked
  • 1/4 cup Light Stick Butter
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Gluten-free Flour
  • 2 cups Skim Milk
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half
  • 10 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
    • Reserve 1/4 cup and set aside
Topping:
  • 20 Gluten-free Crackers, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp Light Stick Butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease or spray a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions, less one minute - this is important, the macaroni will finish cooking in the oven! Drain, rinse, and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted completely, blend in salt, pepper, and flour - whisk quickly, it will form a light roux, or paste. Slowly add milk and half & half while continuing to stir constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir for one minute; remove from heat.
  4. Stir in the shredded cheese until melted and slightly thickened. Add the cooked macaroni and fold in to combine.
  5. Pour half the macaroni mixture into the casserole dish and top with half of the reserved cheese. Repeat with remaining mixture and cheese.
  6. Combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter until well coated. Sprinkle along the edges of the casserole (see pictures above).
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until casserole is bubbly around the edges and cracker topping has browned nicely.
Nutrition per Serving (Based on 7 servings): 324 Calories; 15g Fat; 9g Saturated Fat; 35g Carbohydrate; 2g Fiber; 14g Protein

Mmmm....comfort food.


Happy gluten-free cooking!


11.14.2012

Cran-Apple Crumble Pie

Confession: I like pie.



But really...who doesn't? Growing up, my Great Uncle was obsessed with my mother's baking. Throughout the year, if we went to visit, we were usually bringing a pie...or two, or three. Coconut custard, pumpkin, apple - you name it. She always made her own pie crusts, even when those rolled up pre-made ones could be readily found in the chilled section of the supermarket. When I was in high school, I decided I was no longer a fan of Birthday Cake. So instead, I requested Birthday Pie every year.



I was having a bit of a crisis when I realized I might not be able to make or even enjoy pie for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Pumpkin...apple...pecan...Mmmmmmm delish! I tried to make a pie when I first started cooking gluten-free. I found a gluten-free pie crust recipe online and thought I'd give it a go. I wanted to make my grandmother-in-law's famous Sweet Rhubarb Pie (perhaps I'll post that recipe another time...). Let's just say it was a bit of an EPIC FAIL. The dough got too tough and stuck like crazy to my Pyrex pie plate. All I kept hearing all day was, "Well - it tastes really good!" 

Which is essentially code for, "Nice try, but you failed!"



Needless to say, I had been too nervous to try again. Until now. A couple months ago, my husband and I were invited to a Scotch tasting party at a friends house. The wife of the couple went to culinary school and had prepared some delicious appetizers to go along with said Scotch. She knew that I was gluten-free and had made her mini quiches with a gluten-free crust. 

I had died and gone to heaven. They were incredible - flaky, tender, everything a pie crust should be. And gluten-free to boot! I just had to have that recipe. She wrote down the list of ingredients with their measurements on an index card and tucked it into my purse before I left.



She used store-bought King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour blend for her crust. I make my own flour blend that I use for the majority of my baked goods. This basic blend, developed by Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, can be found here on their blog: Gluten Free Flour Blend. (P.S. you have to scroll down a bit to find it, and those rhubarb muffins? Try them!!) The only gluten-free blend I do not recommend is Bob's Red Mill. Don't get me wrong, I love Bob's products, in fact I use quite a few of them in my kitchen. However, their all-purpose mix contains garbanzo bean flour, and there's something off about the taste when used in sweet baked goods. That's also the flour I used in my initial pie baking attempt, so call it a gut feeling.



This Cran-Apple Crumble Pie was a total hit. If I hadn't told the guests it was gluten-free, they swear they never would have known. My best friend even asked for the recipe to have on hand when her gluten-free cousin comes to visit! This pie is a great addition to a holiday table - not too sweet with just a hint of tartness from the cranberries. You can certainly add more nuts to the topping in place of the oats, or more oats if you cannot have nuts.

I now have a fail-proof gluten-free pie crust recipe - and I'm sharing it with you! (Should come in handy for all the frozen blackberries and rhubarb that are still buried in my chest freezer from last Spring.....) 

Disclaimer: Please make sure to read this recipe thoroughly prior to starting. The dough needs at least one hour to chill out in the fridge before you use it. It's also much easier if you have all your ingredients out, prepped, and ready to go, as this recipe has a lot of parts and steps.



Cran-Apple Crumble Pie

Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours (additional time to chill dough)

Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours

Yields: 8 generous servings


For the Dough:
  • 1 cup Gluten-free Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Xanthan Gum
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 6 Tbsp Light Butter (stick - try Land O'Lakes)
  • 1 Egg, large
  • Cold Water, as needed

For the Crumble:
  • 3/4 cup Gluten-free Flour
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp Apple Pie Spice (see note at bottom to make your own!)
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 4 Tbsp Light Butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup Pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup Old-fashioned Oats

For the Filling:
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm Apples - peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (I recommend Honeycrisp)
  • 6 oz. Cranberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
  • 2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar, packed
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp Gluten-free Flour
  • 1 tsp Apple Pie Spice
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbsp Light Butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Spray a 9 or 10-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.

Make Pie Dough:
  1. In the bowl of a food processor, place flour, salt, sugar, and xanthan gum; pulse to combine.
  2. Add butter chunks to mixture, making sure to space out evenly around the bowl. Pulse until mixture resembles small pebbles and butter is well distributed.
  3. Add egg and process until combined. The dough will not look or behave like traditional pie dough - it will look more like a thick batter that is spread all over the bowl. If dough is too dry and crumbly, add cold water 1 Tbsp at a time until dough comes together. DO NOT add too much water! Dough will be slightly stickier than a traditional pie crust dough made with regular flour. Resist the urge to add more flour!
  4. Remove contents of bowl and form the dough into a disk. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least one hour, or until ready to use.
Make Crumble Topping:
  1. Stir together flour, brown sugar, apple pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Add butter chunks and blend with a fork or pastry cutter into mixture resembles small pebbles.
  3. Stir in pecans and oats until combined; chill in fridge until ready to use.
Make Filling:
  1. Stir together apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, apple pie spice, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl; set aside until ready to use.
Putting it All Together...
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in the lower third of the oven.
  2. Lightly flour your countertop or baking mat. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the pie dough to fit your pie plate (about a 13-inch round). Fit dough into plate and cut back edges to 1/2-inch. Crimp edges with fingers.
  3. Pour the fruit filling carefully into the prepared pie crust. Dot with remaining chunks of butter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  4. Place in oven (on a cookie sheet if you wish, just in case the liquid bubbles over) and bake until apples begin to "droop" or settle - about 45 minutes.
  5. Remove pie from oven and reduce temperature to 375°F. Remove foil and sprinkle crumble topping over fruit. Bake, uncovered, until topping has browned and filling is bubbling around the edges - another 30-35 minutes. Check occasionally to ensure crust is not getting too brown.
  6. Allow pie to cool completely for 2-3 hours prior to serving.
*Recipe adapted from Epicurious*
~ Notes:
  • For homemade Apple Pie Spice, combine: 2 tsp ground Cinnamon, 1 tsp ground Nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground Allspice, and 1/2 tsp ground Cardamom; store in an airtight container.
  • Pie dough can be made up to 3 days in advance; store in fridge until ready to use.
  • Pie can be made 1 day in advance and kept at room temperature, loosely covered, until ready to serve.


Happy gluten-free baking!


11.06.2012

Homemade Applesauce with Sugar & Spice Compound Butter

Some foods just scream "Fall!"



Yep, we're making applesauce.



A few weeks ago, my husband and I ventured out into the beautiful crisp autumn air and drove to our favorite apple orchard. A friend had previously mentioned to me that there were no longer apples to be picked from the trees. That, however, did not phase me. I actually laughed - only people who want to eat apples fresh need to pick them off of trees! 



I go for the bags of drops they keep tucked away in cooled bins in the back of the store. Why? 

  1. They're cheap
  2. I'm only going to destroy them anyway, they don't need to look pretty
  3. Did I mention that they're cheap?
Needless to say, we ended up with about 30 or 40 pounds of apples. Yes. That is about the same weight as a small child. What can I say? We like our applesauce in this house. I usually make enough to last all year, then bury those bags of chunky liquid gold in the bottom of the chest freezer. We usually heat it up and eat it straight out of a coffee mug. But I also use my homemade applesauce in baking recipes - it is unsweetened after all!

I actually just defrosted the final jar from last year's stash. It had been in hiding.



This recipe is so stupid-easy, you're going to kick yourself for ever buying applesauce in a jar from the grocery store. Here's a question for you... How on earth do they get jarred applesauce to be so light in color? A magical mystical feat of processing I will never understand. My applesauce is brown. My husband's grandmother - hers is red, because she leaves the skins on. I just can't get over the color, so I peel my apples. C'est la vie!



When my sister and I were kids we would make applesauce with my Aunt Carole. She had one of those old apple peelers that you clamped to the kitchen counter with a vise. We would help her peel and chop, then she would simmer those apples into oblivion on the stove-top. Afterwards, she would run it all through a food mill to get it nice and smooth. And then... Then she would make something she called "Butter Cream" to put on top. It was sweetened butter that, when placed on top of warm applesauce, would melt into creamy, sugary, blissful deliciousness.

I'm drooling just thinking about this right now.



My aunt's version took all day, and it was worth every ounce of love and energy we put into it. Mine also takes a few hours - but I let my slow cooker do the work. Who doesn't love that? I've also modified the butter cream recipe, just a tweak. 

And I promise, your house will smell divine!

Homemade Slow Cooker Applesauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Yields: About 3 1/2 quarts
  • 7 lbs Sweet Cooking Apples (I like McIntosh for sauce - if you'd like to know more about which apples serve what purpose, here's a great guide: All About Apples)
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 1/2 tsp Apple Pie Spice
  1. Peel, core and chop apples. Try slicing off the top and bottom of your apples prior to peeling - it makes peeling go much faster! If you use an apple corer, just make sure to get any leftover bits of core with a paring knife before tossing those puppies into your slow cooker.
  2. Places all apple pieces and water into the bowl of a 6-quart slow cooker and set to "High".
  3. Check after one hour. If mixture has begun to bubble or foam up around the edges, give it a good stir and lower the heat setting to "Low". If it hasn't started to bubble yet, check every 30 minutes until it has, then follow above directions.
  4. Stir in apple pie spice.
  5. Continue to cook on "Low" for three hours or until apples have broken down and reduced to about 1/2 of original volume; stirring occasionally.
Nutrition per 1/2 cup Serving: 54 Calories; 0g Fat; 0g Saturated Fat; 14g Carbohydrate; 1g Fiber; 0g Protein

~ Notes:
  • This applesauce will be chunky! If you'd prefer a smoother sauce, feel free to run the entire mixture through a food mill after it has finished cooking and has cooled enough to handle without burning yourself.
  • If you'd prefer not to peel your apples, that is entirely your decision - it should still cook down just fine, but it might need to be processed further after cooking (i.e. food mill, food processor, or blender).

Sugar & Spice Compound Butter

Yields: 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup Light Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Apple Pie Spice
  • 4 tsp Brown Sugar, packed
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl; beat with a mixer until creamed together and smooth.
  2. Melt atop warm applesauce and enjoy thoroughly.
Nutrition per 1/2 Tbsp Serving: 29 Calories; 3g Fat; 2g Saturated Fat; 1g Carbohydrate; 0g Fiber; 0g Protein

Trust me - try this recipe...and thank me later!



Happy gluten-free cooking!



10.29.2012

Slow-cooker Bean & Sausage Soup


Of all the things I do in the kitchen, the task I probably loathe the most is chopping onions. Perhaps I am just overly sensitive to their surprisingly coy and pungent aroma. Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised when they make me cry...every...single...time. Perhaps I just need to put some of those ridiculous onion goggles on my Christmas wish list this year.



Dear Santa:
I've been good this year. 
Please bring me a pair of onion goggles - 
they would be much appreciated.

Love,
Amanda

But in all seriousness - my temporary solution is to let them sit in the fridge for a bit before I use them. That is, if I remember of course. Take that tip and stuff it in your back pocket.


I live in upstate NY, by the way, and we are currently being inundated with flood and high wind warnings courtesy of Hurricane Sandy. 

A hurricane, in New York you say? A hurricane, but it's almost November you say? 

Funny, Mother Nature missed the memo too. Apparently the South has taken too much of a beating these last few thousand years. Global warming has taken up the ironic and much under appreciated task of rerouting all forthcoming hurricane activity toward the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast for the next century as a form of "payback". Guess my family had the right idea when they up and moved to Florida two years ago - since then I've dealt with Irene and now Sandy...and they've had a whole lotta nothin'.

But my prayers and thoughts are with all my friends and family who live closer to the shore in Jersey, PA, CT, RI and downstate NY.


Enough talk about the weather - let's get on to the food shall we?

This breezy, chilly Autumn day inspired me to make a few of my favorite things - including soup. I also had some pre-soaked beans and a bunch of kale from my CSA share in the fridge that seemed as though they needed a bit of purpose in life. And I love the way my slow-cooker fills the house with these amazing smells as it simmers away on my counter top. Who needs scented candles when you can cook?! This soup has a little kick to it, via the andouille. Feel free to make substitutions as you feel necessary. You could really use any kind of beans you like - however, if you are going to use canned, I recommend making this soup in a pot on your stove top instead of in the slow-cooker. Therefore you would also drastically reduce the cooking time. Canned beans have a tendency to turn into unrecognizable mush if they simmer away all day...



Slow-cooker Bean & Sausage Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Yields: 4 (generous) servings
  • 8 oz. dry Pinto Beans (soaked as directed overnight)
  • 4 oz. dry White Beans (soaked as directed overnight)
  • 1 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 links Andouille-style Chicken Sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced - I like Bilinksi's, it's gluten-free; you could certainly use any other brand, regular Andouille sausage instead of chicken, or even hot italian style sausage if that's what you have on hand
  • 2 large stalks of Celery, chopped
  • 1 large Carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 large Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried Thyme (or 4 sprigs of fresh)
  • 32 oz. low-sodium organic Chicken Broth
  • 8 oz. Water
  • 4 cups Kale, trimmed of stems and chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper

1. Place beans, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and thyme in the bowl of your slow-cooker.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat. Sauté sliced sausage until nicely browned, about five minutes - add to slow-cooker.
3. Pour a small amount of the chicken broth into the warmed skillet (about 1/3 cup), just enough to scrape all those beautiful browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add this, plus remaining broth, and the one cup of water to the slow-cooker. Stir all ingredients.
4. Turn the slow-cooker on to the Low setting and place the lid on top. Allow to cook until the beans are tender, about 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
5. About 20 minutes before serving, add the chopped kale and 3/4 tsp of salt to the slow-cooker; stir. Replace the lid and allow the kale to soften for 15-20 minutes.
6. Add the vinegar and stir to combine. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper as needed.


Nutrition per Serving: 199 Calories; 3g Fat; 1g Saturated Fat; 42g Carbohydrate; 23g Fiber; 23g Protein

*Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Do me a HUGE favor - serve this with a slice of your best crusty gluten-free bread. Maybe a glass of your favorite white wine. That's what I did :)

Take that Hurricane Sandy!


Happy gluten-free cooking!