Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Violet Blue" Berry Muffins or Blue Velvet Cupcakes: no gluten, no cow's milk, no eggs, no soy, no nuts

When my brothers and I were little, we would watch the movie, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" over and over and over again at our Grandparent's house. We used to eat fudge pops and imagine what it would be like to be in that candy factory, drinking from the chocolate river, taking a bite of a Wonka Bar, and eating that scrumptious gummy bear.
Just last week at our kid's elementry school, the Fifth Grade play was "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". One of my kids most favorite parts was when the gum chomping character, Violet, turned into a great BIG BLUEBERRY, after chewing a piece of gum, that wasn't quite ready to be chewed. "Violet, you're turning violet!", her Dad yelled in the movie. Instead of asking for fudge pops, like my brothers and I did, my kids asked for blue berry muffins in honor of Violet, the great BIG BLUEBERRY girl.

A few months back, I made some blueberry muffins inspired by Erin McKenna's recipe for Gluten-Free Muffins. I altered some ingredients, used my own flour mixture, and changed some of the amounts. My daughter loved them! My son didn't like the whole blueberries in the muffins and picked them all out. He is super sensitive to texture but loves the taste of blueberries in a smoothie.
So, I decided to use my Vitamix (you can use your blender) to blend the blueberries in rice milk and the rest of the wet ingredients, before putting them into the muffins. Viola, actual BLUE, or shall I say Violet, berry muffins that smell, taste, and look great! You just might very well be able to get away with calling these a cupcake, if you put some sort of topping or frosting on them. ;-) They sort of remind me of Red Velvet Cupcakes but blue instead. Blue Velvet Cupcakes or Blue Berry Muffins, whatever you want to call them.

"Violet Blue" Berry Muffin or Blue Velvet Cupcakes:
no gluten, no cow's milk, no eggs, no soy, no nuts
Ingredients: (Makes 12 muffins)
2 cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour such as Bob's Redmill ( I used 1 cup sorghum flour mixed with 1 cup gluten free oat flour.)  
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup oil (I used Spectrum canola)
1/4 cup apple sauce
2/3 cup organic evaporated cane juice sugar (or favorite sweetener of your choice)
1/2 cup rice milk (or milk of choice)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blue berries.
Preheat your oven to 350.
Combine all dry ingredients, flour, baking powder and baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, and cinnamon in a bowl. Wisk to combine.
In your blender or Vitamix, blend the blueberries, rice milk, oil,  apple sauce, vanilla, and sugar together until well blended. (If your blueberries are frozen and you have a regular blender, thaw your berries slightly before blending.)
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. You can do this by hand in the dry ingredients bowl, to save dishes, or in your mixer.
Your batter will be very blue! ;-)
Fill sprayed or muffin cup filled muffin tins with 1/4 - 1/3 cup of batter in each cup.
You can sprinkle the tops with a bit of sugar for decoration if desired.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. (You can rotate the pan after 15 minutes).
Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alton Brown Inspired Graham Crackers: No Gluten, No Dairy, No Eggs, No Soy

My family LOVES Alton Brown, host of the Food Network shows Good Eats, Iron Chef America, Feasting on Waves, and Feasting on Asphalt.
 "My kids have been fascinated with him and his show, "Good Eats", since they were very small. They are a little bigger now and still love him and his show. He's all about cooking and the science behind it. He makes cooking and science interesting and fun with his yeast sock puppets and his interesting camera angles. He's what "Bill Nye The Science Guy" would be if he has a cooking show. Watching his show makes you feel like you can make anything. Even though he hasn't done a lot on gluten or dairy free, his show has really inspired me to get to the point where I'm at now, feeling like I can transform anything into something that my entire family can eat.

October 2009 Lake Forest Park, WA Good Eats: The Early Years book signing tour. My kids get to meet and have a decent chat with Alton Brown.

My son shares with him his idea for a show on dyeing Easter Eggs. Alton thinks it's a good idea, pulls out his wallet, writes the idea on a sticky note and sticks his wallet back in his pocket.

My daughter says that it was her "life long dream" to meet Alton Brown. Look at how she's looking up at him in this picture, priceless!
This week the kids and I decided to try to make graham crackers from scratch that are gluten, dairy, egg, and soy free. We started out with Alton Brown's recipe for homemade graham crackers.
Mr. Brown advocates using a kitchen scale to weigh your flour so you'll notice that the flour is listed in ounces by weight. I also try to estimate if you are using cups. I'll try it using cups next time and will fine tune this if needed.

Here is my take on Mr. Brown's Graham Cracker recipe to make it gluten and dairy free.

Graham Crackers: No Gluten, No Dairy, No Eggs, No Soy
(Inspired by Alton Brown)
8.4 ounces sorghum flour (try 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cup) 
1.8 ounces Bob's Redmill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (try 1/2 cup)
3 ounces dark brown sugar (you can use raw sugar, turbinado sugar, organic pure cane sugar, honey or whatever your favorite non-chemical sweetener is.)
3/4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ounces  Earth Balance Soy Free
2 1/4 ounces molasses
1 1/2 ounces rice milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract


Add your flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of your food processor, Kitchenaid or Vitamix, which is what I used. You could probably do this by hand in a regular bowl too, if you need. :-)
Add the Earth Balance and pulse or blend until the mixture is combined.
Add molasses, rice milk, and vanilla extract and mix until dough forms, about 1-2 minutes.
Mold the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator and place it on a big piece of parchment paper and then put a second sheet of equal size on top. You can put all this on top of a sheet pan for easy transport to the oven later.

Roll the dough out until it's about 1/8 inch thick.
Remove the top sheet of the parchment paper and cut the dough, using a knife or pizza cutter into 2 inch or so square pieces by using vertical and horizontal cuts. You can trim off any excess and roll any extra dough out on another sheet, if desired.

Using a fork, poke holes all over the top of the dough. Leave the crackers on the pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until the edges start to darken. I baked them for 20 minutes and they were a little more crispy than I wanted on the edges.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment with the crackers on them onto a cooking rack. You can later remove them off the parchment to test coolness. You can store them in an airtight container for a few weeks. My kids backed these for their snack at school the next day and then finished them off for snack after school. They said that they reminded them of gingerbread cookies. I'm sure they would be amazing used as smores, with marshmallow and chocolate! Alton Brown even has a recipe for homemade marshmallow!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Brownies For My Little Brownie: gluten free, dairy free, egg free and nut free

In the land of clouds and rain, there lives a sweet little Girl Scout Brownie. Like all good Girl Scouts, her time came to sell those famously delicious Girl Scout Cookies, with her darling Brownie troop. Thin Mints she loves so very much, but they do NOT love her! For this sweet little Girl Scout Brownie has cow's milk issues in such an annoying way that no Girl Scout cookie shall she eat. So there she sat, outside a coffee shop, and she sold those delicious cookies. She sold them, and sold them, but never ever ate them! 

Once all of those cookies were sold (mainly to that large group of cyclists), then it was time to go home. The sweet little Girl Scout Brownie was happy that all of the cookies were sold, but so very sad that she didn't get a treat for herself. Her brother was also sad that he couldn't have any of those yummy cookies because he can't have wheat. In honor of my little Brownie, I decided to make some brownies that the whole family could enjoy.

Brownies: gluten free, dairy free, egg free and nut free
1 cup Gluten Free flour (or 3/4 cup sorghum plus 1/4 cup tapioca flour)
3/4 cup unsweetened coco powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup Earth Balance or oil of choice
½ cup coconut milk or other dairy free milk
1/2 cup apple sauce or other fruit puree such as banana
1 cup organic unrefined sugar or sweetener of choice
2 tablespoon vanilla
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips or broken up favorite chocolate bar such as Theo's.
powdered sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
In the mixer, first put sugar and Earth Balance and vanilla. Turn on medium to high for a few minutes to cream the two ingredients together.
Add in applesauce and rice milk and mix until well combined.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to combine with the
wet in the mixer.
Mix in chocolate chips or chocolate chunks (optional)
Scoop batter into a 9x9 Pyrex (sprayed with cooking spray) or into muffin tins.
Bake at 350 or 30 - 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out somewhat clean. Brownies are supposed to be a little gooey.
Allow to cool.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The No Pain Cream Solution!

Creamy soup or velvety smooth ice cream, are things that would really ruin my week if I ate them. I simply can't eat anything that has any ingredient that is or was derived from cow's milk. There is nothing more frustrating to me than finding out, too late, that there was cream in a soup. That painful feeling in my stomach is unmistakable and it takes days to get back to normal. After many experiences like this I've learned to always ask this one simple question: "Is this soup cream based?"

In an effort to find cream to use in Pumpkin Soup or to add to mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, or in cream based sauces, my Mom found this fabulous cream alternative and I've purchased it several times since. It's called Mimic Creme and it's almond based. They have a sweetened and a non-sweetened version and I picked it up at Whole Foods.

I most recently used it to add creaminess to a tomato vegetable soup that I made. I didn't need the entire container, so I filled up my muffin tins with the rest and stick them in the freezer. Once frozen I transferred the little painless cream hockey pucks into a Ziplock bag and put them back in the freezer. They are ready for me to add them to my soups, sauces, or to make some ice cream out of them.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pancake Hullabaloo Leads To Easy Weekend Pancakes: gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free

Ugg, Pancakes. I hate them, I love them, I need them. Seriously, I was just about ready to give up on gluten, dairy, egg, and soy free pancakes, that all of my family members could eat. I mean, how ridiculous does that even sound? For some reason, I grew more determined to master them with every effort. I think I've lost my mind. Sure, you see all these fancy pancake recipes on-line for gluten free pancakes, but none would suit my entire family. I have a husband with no known food issues, my daughter and I with cow milk issues, and our son with gluten, egg, and soy issues. How's a Mom to make our traditional Saturday breakfast of pancakes without having to make two or three different versions. I came up with an Oatflour Pancake Recipe that has became my old standby. It's great and the whole family will eat it. Then why on Earth would I go messing with it? Why was I spending this much time on pancakes, when I could be spending time with my kids? The answer simply is that I think it could be better and easier.

I always look at what flours all these fancy gluten free mixes use. I noticed that Sweet White Rice flour seems to be a favorite. Thinking of rice flour in general, I have become very disillusioned with brown rice flour bread and some pastas. I hate it. I think it's so overdone, everywhere. I think most people think that rice flour is the old standby. I think it's time to think outside of the ole rice flour box. My experience with it is that it's sticky and works best mixed as a complement to other heartier flours, like Oat or Millet. So why would I try the Sweet White Rice Flour? Well, I just hadn't worked with it yet. I felt as if I had to give rice flour one last try.

So, last Saturday I decided to mix up my Oatflour Pancake Recipe  and instead of using the Oatflour, I used the Sweet White Rice flour, combined with brown rice flour. They completely flopped! I'm not just being picky, I mean they didn't and wouldn't cook through. I hate Sweet White Rice flour, I hate it, I hate it! Here's what they looked like at that point. I appologize for making the picture so incredibly large, I just had to get my point across to you that they were gross!

Both kids are jumping up and down, asking me for pancakes. "Mom, we are so hungry, our tummy hurts". I said, "Why don't you eat your fruit first and I'll have these pancakes done shortly." My daughter dramatically says, "Mom, I'm SO sick of eating gluten free pancakes. Could you please just make me some pancakes with wheat in them. I miss wheat pancakes!" As I toss the glob of disgusting sweet white rice flour pancakes in the trash, I start to feel bad. I decide to just get out the wheat flour and quickly make up some dairy free wheat pancakes for my daughter and husband and make my Oatflour Pancake Recipe  for my son. Then I think all the flours and heat started to get to me. In my insanity I remembered that my good old Vitamix has a gluten free section with a recipe for Garbanzo Bean Flour Pancakes, so I thought I'd give those a try too. When everything is a mess and all the baking supplies are out, you might as well go ALL OUT!

Here is what my old standby no gluten, no egg, no soy, no cow milk Oatflour Pancakes look like. My son liked them, my daughter even liked them. She was thrilled to have the wheat pancakes that morning.

Here are the Garbanzo Bean Pancakes from the Vitamix recipe. No one in my family really liked these much, compared to my Oat pancakes and the wheat ones I was talked into making, except me. I thought they would work perfect for a savory dish. I actually used them for tacos when we ran out of corn tortillas. I could have made the batter thinner and had some sort of crepe or tortilla. I like Garbanzo bean flour for savory dishes, not in my baked goods. I know it's a popular flour to use in baked goods and I'm not saying that I never do it. I just prefer Garbanzo bean flour in savory dishes.

A whole week after my Pancake Hullabaloo, today, Saturday, the kids are asking for pancakes again. I'm short on time so I remind myself that my husband just bought me a case of the Bob's Redmill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour from Amazon Fresh.  I thought I'd try making a recipe up with that, since I had it anyway. Here is what I came up with. I'm happy to say that my daughter, the one who was begging for wheat pancakes last Saturday, was telling me that she loved these and thought they tasted just like the wheat ones from last weekend. Wow! My son loved them, even my husband ate them. Yahoo!
 So here it is, a nice, basic, allergy friendly pancake recipe for anytime. It doesn't even have any gums in it!

Easy Weekend Pancakes:
No gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, or nuts.

1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk of your choice ( I used Almond Milk) plus 1 tsp lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) stirred.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flax meal
1 - 3 tbsp honey or unrefined sugar
2 tbsp vanilla ;-)

In a measuring cup or directly in your blender or Vitamix, measure out your milk and add your lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) to it and stir.

In your blender or Vitamix, add your flax meal do a quick blend with the milk, lemon juice, and flax. Add all of your liquid ingredients first and blend. Then add your dry ingredients.

Turn on your blender or Vitamix starting on low, then to high for 2 minutes or until well combined. Let batter sit while you get ready to cook the pancakes.
5.) Get your frying pan hot on medium heat. Add a bit of Earth Balance to the bottom of the pan and lightly wipe with a paper towel to evenly disperse on the bottom of the pan.
Pour pancake batter into the pan. You will start to see the pancake bubble and you will know that it's time to flip it over. Once on the other side, let it cook for a minute more. You'll get the hang of when they are done, just like with your old wheat pancakes, back in the day.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies: gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free

Chocolate chip cookies was one of the very first things I wanted to try to make gluten, dairy and egg free, when we found out that my son would have to go without these things for a long time. I love making cookies with my kids, especially chocolate chip cookies! Chocolatey, buttery, with the sweet smoothness of brown sugar is what I desire in a chocolate chip cookie. They are what I crave to make on a cold, blustery day. Come to think of it, they are what I crave to make on a warm spring day. Chocolate chip cookies are my anytime baking project that my kids love to help me with. I never tire from baking these little bits of chocolatey goodness. Which probably explains why I've been working so darn hard on this gluten, dairy, soy, nut free recipe for so darn long. I swear that It's been well over a year. I can't even begin to tell you how many flops and throw away batches that I have had. Many were good but not good enough. For a while, the cookies were just too dry. I thought maybe add more oil, but that didn't work. It turned out that I was adding too much flour. Don't expect doughs to look the same as you were used to before baking gluten free. This is a whole new ballgame. I think this version of the recipe is a nice one worth posting. I'm not saying this is my final version. I'm sure there will be more to come. I still have a few ideas to try.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free
2 cups sorghum flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, and 1/2 cup potato starch
            (or use 3 cups all purpouse gluten free flour mix.)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp flax meal plus 3 tbsp water (If you can't have flax, use 3 more tbsp apple sauce or adding 1 tbsp Sunbutter.)
2 tbsp Vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 Earth Balance Soy Free, canola oil, or other oil of your choice.
1 cup organic unrefined sugar
1/2 - 1 tbsp molasses (instead of sugar and molasses you can use 1 cup of brown sugar instead.)
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup rice milk
1 1/2 - 2 cups chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life or Guittard Extra Dark, which contains some soy lethicin.)

1. In a bowl combine all dry ingredients and wisk to combine.
2. In a small seperate bowl, combine flax and water and let sit.
3. In a seperate bowl or Kitchenaid mixer, combine Earth Balance and sugar, molasses, apple sauce, and flax and water mixture on medium to high for 2 - 4 minutes to cream the ingredients together.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet in the mixer until well combined, 5-7 minutes.
5. Fold in chocolate chips.
6. Spoon the dough onto baking sheet, form into a ball and sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 18 minutes.
8. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.