Monthly Archives: February 2011

Daring Bakers: Dairy-Free Panna Cotta with Peach Thyme Gelee, and Gluten-Free Florentine Cookies

 

 The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Panna Cotta. That simple, yet oh-so-satisfying cream-based dessert. It stands the test of time. It’s a go-to recipe for anyone who wants to delight their dinner guests, and it’s relatively uncomplicated…until you go and throw that whole dairy-free thing in there.

But alas, this is why I joined Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks – to not only take on the challenge of making something new, but also to make it gluten and dairy-free. It hasn’t always been a complete success, but sometimes, it’s that whole “thrill of the chase” thing that keeps me coming back for more. And honestly, the panna cotta was not any more difficult to make non-dairy.

This month, I opted to take a risk and share the (hopefully) successful fruits of my challenge with my sister and her husband. They arrived on a Saturday afternoon, twin girls in tow, ready for an evening filled with grilled pork chops topped with sauteed apples, onions, and melty colby-jack cheese (made by my brother-in-law, with Daiya on mine instead of cheese – sweet-and-savory deliciousness!), a simple spinach salad, mashed sweet potatoes, and this roasted cauliflower dish. Glasses of inexpensive zinfandel were filled, and filled again. Warm, comfortable conversation was made in between baby feedings, rounds of Mario Bros. on the Wii with Brittany (who decided to spend the weekend with us), the debut of a new little video camera, and an occasional attempt at distracting a slightly grumpy, teething baby. And dessert.

Charlie and Zoe, 7 1/2 months old

 We sweetened the end of the meal with creamy, rich, dairy-free panna cotta with a peach-thyme gelee, and an overabundance of gluten-free, dairy-free florentine cookies. The panna cotta was made with coconut milk and almond milk instead of cream and milk. The gelee was inspired partly by the lonely bag of frozen peaches leftover from last summer, and this jam recipe. It was a lovely blend of rich and sweet, but not overly so – the fact that I kept it refined sugar-free definitely helped to keep the sweetness at a more natural level.

The florentine cookies, on the other hand, were definitely sweet. In spite of my use of dark chocolate, they still were still plenty sweet – although not cloying. While I’d never enjoyed this cookie before – a lovely oat-y sandwich, filled with chocolate – I knew it would be a favorite.  It was definitely well-received by my sister and brother-in-law. As I know my limitations on self-control around good cookies, and they were both so excited about them,  I sent them home with the rest.

It was a good day.

These two recipes were lovely – and I was excited to finally get around to making panna cotta. The cookie stole the show, however. A big thanks to Mallory for this month’s challenge!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Panna Cotta with Peach Thyme Gelee

1 c unsweetened almond milk (I made my own using this recipe - it’s really easy!)

1 T (1 packet) unflavored gelatin powder

2 cans coconut milk (not light)

1/3 c honey

pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean

Pour the almond milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over evenly. Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

Pour the almond milk into a saucepan and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat until hot, but not boiling. Whisk a few times during this process. Next, add the coconut milk, honey, and pinch of salt. With a small knife, carefully cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into the saucepan. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the honey has dissolved, 5-7 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Then pour into glasses or ramekins. (I used 5, but you could easily make this a 6-serving recipe.) Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

(If you want to layer the gelee on top, allow the panna cotta to firm up for a few hours in the fridge first. If you wish to top with another layer of panna cotta, as I did, you have to reserve some of the panna cotta, and wait for the gelee to firm up before carefully layering the remaining panna cotta on top.)

Peach Thyme Gelee

3 T water

2 T (2 packets) unflavored gelatin powder

1 lb peach slices (can use frozen), chopped finely

1/4 t fresh thyme leaves

2 T honey

pinch of salt

Sprinkle gelatin over water. Place fruit and honey in a small saucepan and simmer until honey has dissolved. Mix the gelatin mixture into the fruit and stir until gelatin has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree in a blender. Once panna cotta is sufficiently gelled, carefully spoon gelee over top. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Florentine Cookies

2/3 c vegan buttery sticks (I used Earth Balance)

2 c gluten-free quick oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 c granulated sugar

2/3 c gluten-free flour mixture (3.5 oz – I used 1 oz teff flour, 1 oz potato starch, and 1.5 oz sorghum flour)

1 T combination of chia seed meal and flax meal, plus 1 T boiling water, mixed into a slurry

1/4 c agave nectar

1/4 c almond milk

1 t vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 1/2 c dairy-free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat. Melt vegan buttery sticks in a small saucepan and remove from heat. Add oats, sugar, flours, chia/flax slurry, agave nectar, almond milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop by the tablespoonful, three inches apart, on the baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your spoon. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on baking sheets.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (I use a stainless steel bowl large enough to sit on top of a small saucepan with an inch or so of simmering water) until smooth. Place the cookies upside down and spoon a bit of chocolate into the middle of each, and place another cookie on top to make a sandwich.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Lemon Earl Grey Cookies

Just a quick note to give you a little sunshine in your late February day. These little cookies have a lovely lemon flavor that will brighten any dreary, cloudy, or otherwise less-than-sunny day. They’re not overly sweet, they’re not rich, and they’re perfect with a cup of hot tea (yes, Earl Grey would be a great option here). They’re also great to bring to work and push off on your coworkers, which is what I did. After all, a cookie in my kitchen is a cookie begging for me to eat it – and I’ve already had more than my fair share!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Lemon Earl Grey Cookies

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c quinoa flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/2 t guar gum

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

leaves from 3 bags of Earl Grey tea, crushed fine

1/2 c vegan buttery sticks, softened

3/4 c sugar, plus 1/4 c more for rolling

1 egg

1/2 t vanilla extract

zest of 1 large lemon

2 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, potato starch, guar gum, baking powder and soda, salt, and tea leaves. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add buttery sticks and sugar. Beat on medium until fluffy and pale (about 2-3 minutes), and then add egg. Beat on medium until egg incorporates, and add vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Beat until incorporated. Turn speed to low and add in flour mixture, and allow to beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed.

Place the remaining sugar in a small bowl, and using a tablespoon (and another spoon if needed), scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough, and roll them around in the sugar. Place on the prepared baking sheets, 2-3 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are just barely starting to brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen.

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays over at Gluten-Free Homemaker.

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup)

Months ago, Alain Braux, a chef and nutritherapist from nearby Austin, Texas, shared his newest book with me – Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food.

Alain asked me to review his book, and so I did. It was a lengthier read than a lot of “cookbooks”, so it took me a bit of time. However, Alain is thorough. He explains the aspects of celiac disease, what it is, how to manage it, and gives a lot of details on how to travel, live healthfully, and some of the topics many books don’t cover – how to cope. Many just starting out with a gluten-free or dairy-free diet feel they have few choices – either feel deprived, or live with inferior store-bought “substitute” products. Alain explains that there is a third option, and he offers up some delicious French recipes to get you started. French recipes? (Aren’t most French recipes comprised of bread and cheese – and wine? How is this accomplished on a gluten and dairy-free diet?) Alain shows that even gluten and dairy-free French dishes can be delectable.

I tried several recipes, but by far, my favorite was one of the easier ones – his tomato soup. It tasted so fresh, bright, and satisfying. I enjoyed it with a slice of Ginger Lemon Girl’s vegan crusty bread for an easy vegan meal. On a chilly evening, it can’t get any better than that.

Soupe de Tomates a la Nicoise (Nicoise-Style Tomato Soup), from Alain Braux’s Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food

2 T olive oil

2 medium white onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 t sea salt

3 lbs ripe tomatoes (since it’s still winter, I opted for high-quality canned whole tomatoes)

2 t sugar

5-6 basil leaves

2 t dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 clove

1 t ground black pepper

1 qt vegetable broth

5-6 parsley sprigs

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 T olive oil

1 c rice or tapioca, optional (since I had bread, I omitted this)

In a large soup pot, saute the onions, garlic, and salt in the olive oil until golden. Clean and quarter your tomatoes. Add to the onion mix. Add sugar, basil, thyme, bay leaf, clove, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook at medium-low heat for about 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.

Process the whole soup in a food processor with a metal blade until coarse, but not pureed. Put back into the pot and add the vegetable broth to your liking, making the soup as thick or as thin as you’d like. Bring to a boil.

At this point, you can enjoy the soup as is. Great hot or cold. Or you could add the thickener of your choice – rice, tapioca, or even some mashed potatoes.

Just before serving, mix the finely chopped parsley and garlic with the olive oil. Stir into the soup and serve.

Kids In The Kitchen: Boiled Lobster

Last weekend was Brittany’s turn in the kitchen. Weeks ago, she had expressed interest in something chocolate (again). When the time came for her to decide, however, she threw a curveball. Lobster, she said. Just like a whole lobster, in the shell? I asked. Yup. I explained that we would be purchasing the lobsters live and cooking them, and while she hesitated, she agreed and we went forward with the plan. Everyone was excited – because hey, it’s not every day there is a lobster dinner at the Mantsch house!

Brittany and I went to the store to buy our lobsters and a few other items. Once the lobsters were in our cart, however, she was no longer interested in getting near the cart. Poor girl – she was worried the lobsters would somehow crawl out of their bag and pinch her. Explaining that their pinchers were secured by rubber bands was not enough to change her mind. I pushed the cart to the checkout, and I placed the lobsters in the car for the ride home, and I was the one that placed them in the refrigerator until it was time to cook.

Unfortunately for Brittany, the whole “mind over matter” thing didn’t work for her when it came to the lobsters. She couldn’t bring herself to place them into the boiling water. (I had to help, and we let Brandan drop one, as he was begging to do it) She was afraid of them. And when it came time to eat, and Brandan had devoured every minute piece of lobster, John and I had our fair share, and Matt had his obligatory “bite” (he said he didn’t like it – but he doesn’t like seafood too much), Brittany was still working through hers. She finally gave up – while she said she enjoyed the taste, she couldn’t get over that the claw meat looked like a claw. Honestly, I’m not a squeamish person when it comes to food, so it’s hard for me to totally empathize, but I felt for her. She was so excited about this meal, but her fears got the best of her. She did try throughout the process, though, and I commended her for that. (We also thanked her for a lobster dinner, because it was delicious!)

If you can handle cooking live lobsters, then this is a very easy, straightforward process. The ingredient list is short (lobster, water, maybe some clarified butter), so the hardest part will be getting to the meat! It’s well worth it though – especially with the claw meat, which is so sweet. Yum!

How to Boil a Lobster

First, make sure you choose live lobsters, and choose those that look lively and healthy in the tank. (You don’t want sluggish or sickly lobsters – so make sure they’re moving around a bit, and their eyes look good.) Buy them as close to when you expect to cook them as possible. They can stay for a while in the refrigerator (they’ll go to sleep, more or less), but it shouldn’t be for more than a few hours. When you’re ready to cook, boil a large pot of water. You can put some salt in the water if you choose.

Once the water comes to a boil, remove the rubber bands from the lobster claws and grasp them by their abdomen (they won’t be able to reach around and pinch you this way). Place them head-down into the water and bring the water back up to a boil. (I had a pot large enough to cook all of our lobsters at once this way) Boil until the lobsters are completely done – their shell should be bright red all over. The meat will no longer be translucent at all. Here are the times for various sizes of lobsters:

1 lb lobsters – 5-7 minutes

1 1/4 lb lobsters – 8-10 minutes

1 1/2 lb lobsters – 10-12 minutes

2 lb lobsters  – 12-14 minutes

3 lb lobsters – 15-18 minutes

I cooked ours for about 10 minutes (each was about 1 1/4 lbs) and they were perfect.

Need help eating the lobster? Here’s a tutorial. I have found that a pair of kitchen shears makes getting through the shell quite easy as well. Enjoy lobster meat unadorned, dipped in clarified butter or ghee, or incorporate the meat into delicious recipes like lobster risotto, lobster bisque, or a salad.

Daring Cooks: Cold Soba Salad and Tempura

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com.

While I am a fan of Japanese cuisine, truthfully, it’s something that has rarely made an appearance in my kitchen. I’ve made sushi before, but that’s about the extent of my experience. However, I was excited about this challenge – tempura is a tricky beast, and I thought this would be a wonderful chance to tackle it. As for cold soba salad – I was game for that! I’ve made soba a few times before, most successfully in a dish called ostu. It’s been a while though, and this was a new recipe, so it was also exciting.

How did I make the tempura gluten-free? This was perhaps one of the easiest adjustments so far with my Daring Cooks’ challenges. The original recipe called for a 1/2 cup of regular flour and 1/2 cup of cornstarch - so I substituted 1/2 cup of sweet white rice flour and 1/2 cup of tapioca starch. It came out beautifully – airy and crisp. We enjoyed sweet potatoes, green beans, and shrimp, dipped in the spicy dipping sauce (made gluten-free easily by substituting gluten-free soy sauce), and there wasn’t a bit left. While I loved this Japanese-style, I can easily imagine taking the tempura batter “process” over to other cuisines (onion rings, anyone?).

The soba salad was also delicious, so much so, I think I enjoyed it even more than the tempura. I served ours with a dashi sauce, green onions, eggs, grated daikon radish, pickled ginger, and some toasted nori. I am having leftovers for lunch today, and am pretty darn excited about it, if I do say so. While finding 100% buckwheat soba isn’t easy (I had to visit Whole Foods – most soba in the American groceries is a blend of wheat and buckwheat flour), I am definitely going to pick up some more when I find it again. I love the nutty, earthy flavor of the noodles.

All in all, another delicious Daring Cooks’ challenge completed! What’s even better – this has inspired me to dig further into Japanese cuisine. I’m overdue for an adventure!

Gluten-Free Tempura

1 egg yolk

1 c iced water

1/2 c sweet white rice flour

1/2 c tapioca starch

1/2 t baking powder

Oil for deep frying

Ice water bath, for the tempura batter

Very cold vegetables and seafood – you can choose from: blanched and cooled sweet potato slices, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, pumpkin, onions, shrimp, etc.

Place the iced water in a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg yolk and gradually pour into the iced water, stirring (preferably with chopsticks) and blending well. Add flours and baking powder all at once, stroke a few times with chopsticks until the ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be runny and lumpy. Place the bowl of batter in an ice water bath to keep it cold while you are frying the tempura. The batter as well as the vegetables and seafood have to be very cold. The temperature shock between the hot oil and the cold veggies help create a crispy tempura. Heat the oil in a large pan or a wok. For vegetables, the oil should be 320°F/160°C; for seafood it should be 340°F/170°C. It is more difficult to maintain a steady temperature and produce consistent tempura if you don’t have a thermometer, but it can be done. You can test the oil by dropping a piece of batter into the hot oil. If it sinks a little bit and then immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready. Start with the vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, that won’t leave a strong odor in the oil. Dip them in a shallow bowl of flour to lightly coat them and then dip them into the batter. Slide them into the hot oil, deep frying only a couple of pieces at a time so that the temperature of the oil does not drop. Place finished tempura pieces on a wire rack so that excess oil can drip off. Continue frying the other items, frequently scooping out any bits of batter to keep the oil clean and prevent the oil (and the remaining tempura) from getting a burned flavor. Serve immediately for best flavor.

Gluten-Free Spicy Dipping Sauce

¾ c spring onions/green onions/scallions, finely chopped
3 T gluten-free soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
½ t agave nectar
¼ t English mustard powder
1 T grape-seed oil
1 T sesame oil
1/2 t ground  black pepper 

Shake all the ingredients together in a covered container. Once the salt has dissolved, add and shake in 2 tablespoons of water and season again if needed.

Gluten-Free Soba Salad

2 quarts + 1 c cold water, divided

12 oz 100% buckwheat noodles

Cooking the noodles:

  1. Heat 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add the noodles a small bundle at a time, stirring gently to separate. When the water returns to a full boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this twice. When the water returns to a full boil, check the noodles for doneness. You want to cook them until they are firm-tender. Do not overcook them.
  2. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well under cold running water until the noodles are cool. This not only stops the cooking process, but also removes the starch from the noodles. This is an essential part of soba noodle making. Once the noodles are cool, drain them and cover them with a damp kitchen towel and set them aside allowing them to cool completely.
  3. 

Mentsuyu – Traditional dipping sauce

2 c Kombu and Katsuobushi dashi (This can be bought in many forms from most Asian stores and you can make your own. Recipe is HERE.) Or a basic vegetable stock.

1/3 c gluten-free soy sauce

1/3 c mirin (sweet rice wine)

Put mirin in a sauce pan and heat gently. Add soy sauce and dashi soup stock in the pan and bring to a boil. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate until ready to use.

I served the soba noodles by placing some cold noodles in a bowl, and ladling some of the sauce over. I topped with crumbled nori, egg omelet strips, grated raw daikon radish, pickled ginger, and some green onions. You can top with any of the following: thin omelet strips, boiled chicken breasts, ham, cucumber, boiled bean sprouts, tomatoes, toasted nori, green onions, wasabi powder, grated daikon, pickled ginger, etc. Everything should be finely grated, diced, or julienned.

Beef Jerky and a Valentine’s Day Roundup

Another dehydrator adventure! As promised, I’m sharing my beef jerky recipe with you. I’ve made 4 batches since the dehydrator arrived, and I’m betting I’m due to make another. You see, my husband isn’t really a “sweets” guy. All of the chocolates and candies in the world don’t faze him. (Except maybe these chocolates!) To show my love and appreciation for him through food, I make enchiladas, roast chicken, or chili. Although judging by its popularity, I think that this beef jerky very well has been added to this list of favorites.

This jerky is easy to make and while I haven’t measured the nutritional value, I’m sure it’s lower in sodium and healthier than the packaged stuff. My husband and I also think it tastes better – it’s slightly spicy, and the flavor is fuller. Of course, it’s also gluten-free. It’s perfect as an on-the-go snack when you’re not sure about your next meal, or when you don’t have much time to eat. It’s also wonderful to share, which is the reason why we’ve gone through so much!

Gluten-Free Beef Jerky

2 lbs lean beef (I like using London Broil the best)

1/4 c low-sodium gluten-free tamari (soy sauce)

1 T chipotle Tabasco sauce (alternatively, you can chop 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, plus add about 1 t of the sauce)

3 cloves garlic, minced finely

2 t onion powder

1 t black pepper

Place beef in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This will allow it to “firm up” so that you can slice it more easily. Once it is firm, slice your beef across the grain thinly (about 1/8 inch thick or so).

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Add the beef slices and seal the bag, and toss around to ensure all of the slices are well-coated. Refrigerate overnight or for 8 hours or so.

Remove from bag and lay strips out on dehydrator sheets. Dehydrate at 150 degrees for 8 hours or until the meat is dried enough to be just slightly pliable. You want it to bend a bit, but you don’t want it to be floppy in the slightest. (If you don’t have a dehydrator, setting your oven to the lowest setting and placing the beef strips on a metal rack over a baking sheet works pretty well too – you’ll just have to flip the strips halfway through.)

Is your sweetie in need of some more traditional Valentine’s treats? Don’t despair – I happened to check out a few things around the blogosphere, and came up with some decadent delights, just for you!

How about Chocolate Raspberry Bon-bons? I’ve made these before and they were GREAT. http://www.elanaspantry.com/chocolate-raspberry-bonbons/

Or some cake pops: http://www.elanaspantry.com/valentines-day-cake-pops/

Karina at Gluten-Free Goddess is sharing some chocolate love: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2010/02/gluten-free-chocolate-love.html

How about an extra-moist chocolate cake? http://realsustenance.com/extra-moist-gluten-free-double-chocolate-chip-cake/

Chocolate raspberry truffle balls? http://www.dailybitesblog.com/2011/02/08/chocolate-raspberry-truffle-balls/

I have even more truffle ball recipes here: http://tastyeatsathome.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/more-nut-truffles-pecan-pie-and-pistachio-sesame/

Amy has a lovely fresh fruit pastry tart recipe that looks amazing: http://www.simplysugarandglutenfree.com/fresh-fruit-tart-with-pastry-cream-happy-mothers-day/

It might be chilly outside, but in my mind, ice cream is good any time of year! How about sugar, dairy, and gluten-free ice cream? http://www.dietdessertndogs.com/2011/02/03/sos-stevia-dairy-free-sugar-free-coconut-ice-cream-no-ice-cream-maker-required/

More ice cream, this time chocolate pomergranate! http://glutenfreeeasily.com/chocolate-pomerdoodle/

Or one of my favorites, a vegan cheesecake: http://tastyeatsathome.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/vegan-and-gluten-free-cheesecake-with-blueberry-compote/

Seal in an airtight container and enjoy!

Wild Veggie: Maple Carrot Custard (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Last week, I was contacted by Wild Veggie to see if I would be interested in trying out their product and sharing it with you. While I don’t try out a lot of products (either they’re not gluten AND dairy-free, or they’re so full of “junk” that I don’t want to eat), this was one I could definitely get to know. The ingredient list is quite short – basically just veggies, spices, and (gluten-free) food starch. They are vegetable purees, perfect for soups, sauces, or in this case – custard.

Carrot custard? Why not? We make custards out of everything else. This was very easy to prepare – just whisk together the ingredients, pour into greased ramekins, and bake. Then enjoy, drizzled with maple syrup, a few pecans, and if you’re feeling adventurous, a few flakes of coarse sea salt. The flavor is actually reminiscent of Thanksgiving – it’s similar to pumpkin pie – but why reserve those flavors just for a certain time of year? I could enjoy this throughout the colder months. It’s creamy and delicious.

I also tried a bit of the Broccoli Wild Veggie in mashed potatoes. My husband and I both enjoyed it. I have yet to try the red pepper, but I’m imagining some sort of delicious red pepper sauce to accompany a nice piece of fish – halibut, perhaps? It definitely will not go unused! A big thanks to Wild Veggie for sharing their products. 

Wild Veggie Maple Carrot Custard

1 c Wild Veggie Carrot

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 c maple syrup

1 t ground ginger

1/4 t ground allspice

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t kosher salt

3 T tapioca starch

1 1/2 c full-fat coconut milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Whisk together ingredients. Spray 4 ramekins with gluten-free nonstick spray. Pour mixture evenly into ramekins. Place on a baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 25 minutes longer, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm, with maple syrup drizzled over, topped with a few pecans and a few flakes of coarse salt, if desired.

Makes 4.

Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program: Pace Picante Sauce and Enchilada Sauce

What do you do when Foodbuzz gives you Pace Picante sauce? Make enchiladas, of course!

As a Featured Publisher and a member of the Tastemaker program at Foodbuzz, I periodically get opportunities to receive free samples of delicious food from various vendors. Previously, I received a huge box of avocados (one of my most favorite fruits ever) and made ice cream with some of my bounty. Most of the time, I don’t participate – there aren’t a lot of products out there that I can eat. But when Foodbuzz announced they were giving away free Pace Picante sauce to members of the Tastemaker program, I was on board. While I love to make homemade salsa, I am already extremely low on our supply from the summer (only 1 jar left!), and wouldn’t dare use it for enchilada sauce. And while I could make enchilada sauce from scratch (as I’ve done here and here), it was a weeknight when I made these, and the Pace Picante sauce streamlined the process considerably.

While the photo may not represent just how tasty these were (enchiladas are not exactly the most photogenic of all foods), let me assure you – they were quite delicious. Let me let you in on another little secret – these enchiladas were completely grain-free as well! That’s right – no tortillas. See, I can tolerate corn from time to time, but generally, I try to avoid it. (Yes, those are corn tortilla chips you see gracing the plate. That’s mostly decoration for me, although I might have snuck a bite.) What do I use instead? Egg crepes! Carol over at Simply…Gluten-Free has a recipe. Honestly though, you barely need the recipe – these are so easy. I made up a bunch, and gently rolled them around a filling, and place them in the baking dish, just like you would any other enchiladas. This time, my filling was a mixture of leftover cooked chicken, a bit of enchilada sauce, and sauteed spinach – but you can use anything. I’ve previously filled them with cooked chicken and a bit of leftover butternut squash puree. (That was so delicious, by the way!) It might sound odd, but these are just as satisfying as any tortilla-based enchilada. Just roll them up, place in a baking dish, spoon some sauce over, and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Dinner is served!

Pace Picante Enchilada Sauce

1 16oz jar Pace Picante sauce (your choice – hot, medium, or mild. I used mild for this sauce)

1 t ground chipotle chile powder

2 t ground cumin

1 1/2 c water

Blend all ingredients together. Spoon over enchiladas as desired.

A big thanks to Foodbuzz for the opportunity!

Raw Apple Cinnamon Chips

A few weeks ago, the appliance that changed our lives forever arrived. That’s right, my dehydrator showed up on my doorstep. Soon after, the dehydrating fest began! I dehydrated sweet potato chips, zucchini chips, made beef jerky (recipe coming soon!), made gRAWnola, and made these apple chips. (I’ve actually made them several times – they just never lasted long enough for pictures!) This is quite possibly my new favorite appliance. It does take up a bit of counter space, but it’s been used SO often I just haven’t put it away. It is a great way to make healthy, whole food snacks, many times raw and still full of nutrients. It’s also so easy, you hardly need a recipe. I don’t have exact measurements – this is merely a guideline. Feel free to experiment. If you haven’t yet purchased a dehydrator, let me tell you – it’s worth your investment. I think that I will break even on my expense in a month or two, as I am not purchasing store-bought snacks (and organic, gluten-free, raw snacks can be super-expensive!)

Raw Cinnamon Apple Chips

3 organic Fuji apples (or your favorite variety), sliced thinly on a mandoline (mine were probably about 1/8 inch thick or so)

1-2 t ground cinnamon

Lay apple slices in a single layer on the racks of your dehydrator. Sprinkle cinnamon over apples. Dehydrate at 110 degrees F for 8-10 hours or until apples are leathery. Store in a sealed container.

Makes about 1 quart of apple chips.

Gluten-Free “Big Game” Party Recipe Ideas

As most of you are aware, this weekend is the “Big Game”. Sunday evening, at 5:30 pm CST. It’s bigger news than usual around here, because Dallas (okay, well technically, Arlington) is hosting at Cowboys stadium. Will I be there? Certainly not. (I can’t afford even the $200-a-piece parking lot tickets!) I won’t be hosting a huge party either, although I will have some family over, just so we have a good excuse to eat some delicious gluten-free food. I’m not even sure what we’ll be serving yet - although these chicken salad puffs could possibly make the list!

However, if you are looking to host a grand gluten-free party, then here are some great party-friendly recipe ideas, designed to please both gluten-free and gluten-eaters alike!

Basil Chicken Pesto Salad Puffs from Tasty Eats At Home

Pork Satay from Tasty Eats At Home

Gluten-Free Nacho Cheese Triangles from Elana’s Pantry

Baked Parmesan Garlic Wings from Steamy Kitchen

Red Chile Enchilada Pizzas from Gluten Free For Good

Red Beans and Rice from Good Life Eats

Chicken and Vegetarian Tamales with Red Mole Sauce from An Opera Singer In The Kitchen

Peanut Butter Brownies from Tasty Eats At Home

Chocolate Date Vegan Brownies from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Chocolate Dipped Dates with Spiced Nuts from Tasty Eats At Home

Super Bowl Cake Pops from Elanas Pantry

Gluten-Free Cake Pops from Gluten-Free Diva