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Chicken and Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup Under Pressure

1 Dec

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I love soup! The warmth and comfort you can get from a bowl of soup is unsurpassed. Making soup for a crowd is a great way of showing the love too! This is a super easy brothy flavor packed meal. If you have a pressure cooker then you know the ease and speed at which you can pump out meals. If you are making this on the stove top is will be just as easy but takes a bit longer. Either way, enjoy.

Chicken and Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup Under Pressure

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 very large ripe tomato, diced
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn
6 cups chicken broth (homemade is best)
2 tsp. chili powder more to taste
2 tsp. ground cumin more to taste
2 tbs oregano
1 bay leaf
2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbs tomato paste
2 cups diced peeled butternut squash
Limes

To serve:
Crushed tortilla chips
fresh cilantro
Green onion
Fresh avocado
fresh lime juice
Lactose free sour cream

Instructions:
Add broth and all ingredients to pressure cooker except the beans. Cover Pressure cooker and set to sealing position. Select Soup Mode and manually adjust the time to 15 minutes.
Do natural release when soup is finished.

Remove the chicken breasts to a plate cut in half and and use two forks to shred the meat apart. Return the shredded chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Add the drained beans. Check for seasoning, add more chili powder or salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, and the crisp tortilla and avocado.
(To cook on the stove top, follow directions, cover and simmer on medium low for 45 minutes.)

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Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

23 Dec

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I just started working on a Gingerbread cookbook and Kit, something I have always wanted to do.  I want to have a great alternative Gluten Free dough. This is one of my first attempts, it’s a modified version I have used in the past. I just love it. It works fantastically for cookies, they hold their shape. I haven’t tried a whole house from this dough yet but as for cookies it is perfect. I used Cup 4 Cup flour from Whole Foods it has xanthum gum added already.
Pair these with my delicious almond milk for an allergy free treat.

Gluten Free Gingerbread Dough

Combine the following dry ingredients in a bowl and set them aside:

2 1/4 cups All-Purpose gluten free flour (with xanthum gum added)
Or
2 1/4 cups All-Purpose gluten free flour plus a 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum)
Or
(I used 1 1/4 cups Cup for Cup flour plus a pinch of xanthum gum)
1 cup cashew meal (Trader Joe’s now has cashew meal)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch salt

6 tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add
softened butter and brown sugar in the bowl of your mixer beat on medium speed until
very light and fluffy.
Add egg, molasses and vanilla, and beat briefly on medium-low speed. You don’t want to incorporate too much air in them, they hold their shape better the less you beat them.
Add dry ingredients, mix until just incorporated

The dough will be soft but will firm up once it’s chilled. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and wrap them separately in plastic, then flatten each package into a disk for easier rolling. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight for best results.
When you’re ready to roll and cut the dough, remove it from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 350°F.
Roll the dough about 1/4″ thick and use the gluten free flour to help the dough release. Choose the cutters and cut  your cookies, transfer to a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. They’ll firm up on the edges, but should still be soft in the middle. Cool completely before decorating.

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Gluten Free – Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Box Cake

11 Dec

betty

Last week I went to Florida to surprise my mom, I literally just flew across the US and walked into her house at 7 pm. She was shocked to say the least! We had a lovely time just doing nothing!

On the flight home I sat next to a really sweet gal named Camron, we started joking immediatly and I knew the long flight would be less dreadful than usual. We struck up a conversation about gluten because the snack packs on the flight were less than desirable for gluten low gals, especially for a person with Celiac. She let me know that she had been involved in the Betty Crocker® Gluten Free baking contest. I am always looking for Gluten Free items that are more mainstream that anyone can make, this one fits the bill. So if you are experimenting with gluten free, try this one! Thanks to my new friend Cameron for making the flight way more fun than it usually is!

GLUTEN FREE

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Box Cake

1 box Betty Crocker® Gluten Free chocolate chip cookie mix 1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons gluten-free vanilla
1 egg

2 cups whipping cream
12 oz gluten-free mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa Chocolate shavings or miniature chocolate chips

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, mix cookie mix, butter, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and the egg until soft dough forms.
  2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets to make 36 cookies.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. In large bowl, beat whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar, cocoa and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form.
  5. To assemble cake, arrange 7 cookies in bottom of 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Break 1 additional cookie apart to fill in spaces. Spread 1 cup of the whipped cream mixture evenly over cookies. Arrange 7 more cookies over whipped cream layer; top with additional 1 cup whipped cream mixture. Repeat 3 more times with remaining cookies and whipped cream mixture. Spread the top smooth; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 12 hours.

         6. To serve, run a sharp knife around edge of pan to release cake. Remove side of pan. Place cake on serving plate. Garnish with chocolate. Cut into wedges. Store covered in refrigerator.

Nutrition Information
Calories:370; Calories from Fat:210; Carbohydrate Choice:2 1/2; Cholesterol:75mg; Fat:4 1/2; Other Carbohydrate:1 1/2; Potassium:45mg; Sodium:220mg; Starch:1; Total Carbohydrate:38g; Total Fat:23g; Monounsaturated Fat:4 1/2g; Polyunsaturated Fat:1/2g; Protein:3g; Saturated Fat:14g; Sugars:25g; Trans Fat:1/2g; Fats & Oils:2tsp;

Super Delicious Fluffy Gluten Free Oatmeal Muffins

21 May

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I recently found Cup to Cup Gluten Free Flour and I think it may be the best one so far. Image

I just feel better when I eat gluten free! I have been eating that way for almost 6 years. I do eat gluten occasionally but for the most part I stick with a GF free diet. When I first started this way of eating I had gallstones, and they were horrible! I had to cut out fat and fat tastes good. After my gallbladder was removed (they tell you you don’t really need it, they lie!) I had a very hard time eating any fatty foods, so I started cutting out even more thinking maybe my digestion was screwy because of wheat or dairy. What happened, was that I started feeling alert and my occasional migraines disappeared for good.  I really had no idea I was even in a fog, but I must have been for a very long time because the change I saw from going off wheat was big. I was able to slowly reintroduce fat, truly unfortunate for my waistline!

I cut out most dairy too and my tummy problems cleared up a lot but not all the way. It wasn’t until just under two years ago I found out I had Thyroid issues that I was clear of tummy problems and the fog continues to be lifted. I continue to try and avoid dairy and wheat and feel worlds better for it.  I think a lot of us walk around not even knowing we feel terrible.

All this for muffins, yes I just gave you way too much information, but if you or your kids are feeling foggy, unmotivated or bloated try giving up gluten for a few months.

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Fluffy Gluten Free Oatmeal Muffins

These muffins are gluten free but you wouldn’t know it.

The flour does have milk powder so if you can handle a tiny bit of dairy it will be perfect for you.

1/2 cup milk (soy or almond milk)
 3/4 cup instant oatmeal
 2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
 2/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour (gluten free flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup mini chips
1/4 cup shredded sweet coconut or unsweetened

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Butter 12 muffin cups or use cupcake papers
Mix oats and milk together in a bowl, set aside to soak for 15 minutes or longer.
Combine  flour,  baking powder, baking soda, and salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, set aside.
In a large measuring cup add coconut oil into vegetable oil. If the coconut oil is solid, mash the coconut oil into vegetable oil. Add eggs and brown sugar and mix until smooth
Add oatmeal milk mixture into wet mixture, mix.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, add chocolate chips and coconut, mix until just incorporated.
Fill the prepared muffin cups with batter.
Bake in preheated oven until tops are golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

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Quick Lunch Idea

19 Oct

Are you skipping lunch AGAIN? I know, you are so busy, little kids are home and won’t nap. Big kids are coming home soon and you still have to run out to do some errands. We all deal with it, whether you are a work at home mommy or work in an office mommy. Are you putting yourself first or are you having a latte for lunch again?  I work at home and so does my husband, most of the time we need to eat lunch at home but it is hard to stop what we are doing to eat. So tailor this to your liking and remember to eat!

Here is a really easy way to feed yourself and the other people at home with you during lunch. Add the greens for the kid, get them used to having sandwiches with veggies on them.

I love recycling leftovers, by now you know that! This is a very easy wrap using leftover roasted chicken but you could use anything. How about squash, potato, broccoli, steak, turkey burger??  Do you have tortillas, do you have cheese, spinach or lettuce?

It is nice keep ingredients on hand like  some pesto, humus or my favorite balsamic glaze on hand for quick lunches.

Trader Joe’s has a balsamic glaze that is delicious, it lasts forever too. Look around the store for interesting condiments to keep around for just such an occasion.

Here are two really easy versions of a wrap, one gluten free and dairy free, one cheesy with a regular tortilla.

Chicken Balsamic Wrap

(Normal folks version)

1 Flour tortilla

a handful of fresh spinach

shredded chicken or leftovers

A slice of cheese

balsamic glaze

mayonnaise

Warm tortilla on the flame of a gas stove for 5 seconds, flip over for five seconds more. You can also warm it in a dry pan on the stove for about 30 seconds.

add cheese, mayonnaise, spinach, chicken, salt, pepper and balsamic glaze. Roll and eat!

Chicken Balsamic Wrap

Gluten and Dairy Free Version

1 Gluten free tortilla ( like Rudi’s the best)

a handful of fresh spinach

shredded chicken or leftovers

balsamic glaze

mayonnaise

Warm tortilla on the flame of a gas stove for 5 seconds, flip over for five seconds more. You can also warm it in a dry pan on the stove for about 30 seconds.

Add mayonnaise, spinach, chicken, salt, pepper and balsamic glaze. Roll and eat!

“Let Us” Roll Ups Revisited

2 Jul


Since I moved my blog over from Toddler Café to Playful Pantry I haven’t posted any recipes from my book. This is for all of you who never saw this crunchy delicious one it is one of my favorites so I am resurrecting it.  This is our go to meal for summer, you can add any veggies you desire,  it’s great for kids and adults love it too!  Stay cool and eat well!

Getting kids to eat raw vegetables can be a real struggle but this one may turn your kids around. This dish has crisp crunch and texture from healthy vegetables! The sauce binds the meat together so it stays put in the lettuce leaf. Give your child the smaller inside leaves so they will be easier for little hands to manage.

Make sure you break up the meat as small as you can to make it easy to eat. Have them fill the lettuce boats with the tasty “cargo” and sail them into the port (mouth). Try to be a shark and bite the boat as you sail it by their mouths.

“Let Us” Roll Up

Makes 4 servings

1 head romaine lettuce hearts, separated washed and dried

1 pound ground chicken, beef or turkey

1 medium carrot minced or grated 3/4 cup chopped or 3 ounces

1 cup broccoli crowns and stems, minced, 3/4 cup chopped or 3 ounces

Sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

Chopped Peanuts or Cashews for sprinkling (optional)

Put sauce ingredients in a small bowl stir to combine and break up lumps with a fork, set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan or wok on medium high heat. Add meat and cook untouched until meat looks like it is cooking underneath and juices start release. Chop the meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks, when meat is almost cooked through add vegetables. Continue stirring and breaking up lumps until meat is thoroughly cooked, if the meat is giving off a lot of grease drain it before adding sauce. Turn heat down to medium low, give the sauce a stir and add it to the center of the pan. Mix well cook 2 minutes more, continuing to break up any large chunks of meat and coating with sauce.

Serve meat and lettuce leaves separately on a plate, have your child try to put the meat in the leaves with a spoon sprinkle with nuts and eat like a taco.

Variation:

Mix cooked rice into meat mixture to change it up.

Next time add minced onion or garlic when you add the vegetables. This will get your kids used to new flavors without them seeing the identifiable chunks.

 This recipe can be made gluten free easily by substituting the Soy for GF Tamari.

Hamantashen, to fold or to pinch? (that is the question)

5 Mar

Hamantashen Cookie

Making cookies is always fun for kids but for us, these are especially exciting to make.  The familiar shape of the triangular cookies shows itself every March, it is the official cookie of Purim, a Jewish holiday geared toward the kiddos. (You definantly don’t have to be Jewish to make these!) We first tried a recipe that seemed to have good reviews but they came out too cakey, I needed another try and I knew exactly where to look for the perfect recipe.

I went straight to Claire’s old Preschool, the ECE Preschool at the Marin Osher JCC  A place where baking and kids is perfectly natural! They use tried and true recipes passed down from Bubi to Bubi and they really work.  If 100 preschoolers can make Challah or Hamantashen taste good then I know the recipes work! When I visited, the Director handed me an adorable colorful printout of the Hamantashen recipe. Let’s back up a minute, I know you are wondering what’s up with that weird name and why is the cookie shaped like a triangle?

The Origin of Hamantaschen
“Hamantaschen” is a Yiddish word meaning “Haman’s pockets.” Haman is the villain in the Purim story, which appears in the Biblical Book of Esther. In the story, Haman is the Grand Vizier of Persia and a rabid anti-Semite. When Mordechai, a Jewish member of the king’s court and relative of Queen Esther, refuses to bow down to Haman, the Grand Vizier plots to have all the Jews in the kingdom massacred. However, Queen Esther and Mordechai discover Haman’s plot and are able to foil it. In the end, Haman is executed on the gallows he planned to use on Mordechai.
Jews eat hamantaschen on Purim as part of the celebration of the holiday, which commemorates how Jews escaped Haman’s dastardly plans. One explanation for the triangular shape of these pastries is that Haman wore a three-cornered hat. (excerpt from http://judaism.about.com )
There are some other facts about Purim that the kids really love one is

There are four good deeds that people try to carry out at Purim time.

1) To hear the reading of the Megillot Ester (Book of Esther) at a group gathering. This developed into a custom several hundred years after the real event took place.

2) To enjoy an atmosphere that encourages celebration with food and drink.

3) Helping out at least two people who are less fortunate than we are (charity) by giving them gifts on the 14th of Adar.

It has also become a tradition (Machatzit Hashekel) to give 3 half-dollar coins to charity to commemorate the half-shekel given by each Jew in the time of the Holy Temple. This good deed is usually done in the synagogue.

4) Giving gifts to a friend who is not necessarily poor. These ready-to-eat gifts might take the form of a fruit basket (Shalach Monot), pastry or beverage.

The best part of Purim is the dress up, the kids dress as Esther, Hamen or any royal. Purple is often used in decoration because it is the color connected to royalty.  The celebration is kind of like Mardi Gras and Halloween all wrapped up in one, lots of sweets and lots of fun!

Now that the history part is out of the way we can get on to sweeter things..

This recipe was great to use, a parent form the school made it, I have no clue who, but thanks because it is so handy!

The traditional filling of the Hamantashen is poppy-seed but we love strawberry or apricot preserves. I also sliced up fresh strawberries and added a slice to each one for a fresh taste.  The method is much like making sugar cookies, you roll out the buttery dough and chill. The triangle starts with a circle, imagine that, stay in school kids, the wonders of math never cease! Use a cup or a round cookie cutter to cut circles, drop a bit of filling in and then from your triangle (recipe below)

Raw chocolate chip dough

I butter

There is a debate in the land of Hamantashen about the correct way to seal up the Hamantashen, to fold or to pinch. I was always a pincher but I recently tried a recipe from Cupcake Project, while her tashen looked and tasted good, her suggestion of folding was intregiung to me. Folding the dough can produce a beautiful cookie but we had problems. Our dough was cracking with each fold although our cookies came out pretty we were discouraged by the cracking.

When we used the recipe below we pinched, you may have to use some water on the dough to make it stick but the pinched ones came out perfectly! So I say, depending on the recipe, your oven and your skill level pinching may be the way to go. **Note- for gluten free see bottom of post.

Lizet’s Hamatashen Recipe

preheat oven to 350˚ƒ
4 1⁄2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together in a large bowl

3 sticks butter (1 1/2 c).
soften in a bowl
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
beat eggs in a bowl, stir in vanilla.
add eggs to flour mixture, add butter, stir, then dump on clean surface, knead briefly until sticky.divide dough in quarters.  ( I wrap and chill at this point)
roll to 1/4 inch thick on floured board.
Cut circles using a cutter or cup.
Place 1 tsp filling in center of dough.
Fold or pinch 3 sides to make a triangle.
Leave some filling showing in center. 
Bake on cookie sheet about 15 minutes.

Filling: use jam, or mix 1⁄2 lb. Prunes with 1⁄4 c. strawberry jam in a food processor. Or try making your own poppy seed filling…

Mohn (Poppy seed filling)

2 c. poppy seed, finely ground

1 egg

1/3 c. honey or sugar

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1⁄4 c. chopped nuts

Wash the seeds well, them grind them in a food processor or place the seeds in a cloth and pound them with a mallet. Mix with the remaining ingredients. chill.

                                                                                  
 

Folding the dough on a cookie sheet avoids the transfer disaster.

**NOTE

When we made these goodies with for our third grade class we needed a gluten free recipe. I tried a pie dough mix and it was terribly unsuccessful. As you can see it the photo they were like sand and not folded or pinched, we just dug out a space for the jam..

One of the moms made up a batch of GF cookie dough from Pure Pantry sugar cookie mix and it worked really well for the Hamantashen. I only have a photo of our ugly ones because the better ones got gobbled right up!

Ugly duckling gluten free cookies

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