Brownies To Love!

Image     Trying to figure out a special valentine dessert? Let me suggest a brownie recipe that every one falls in love with; especially the delicious flavor and perfect texture of these bars.  Plus, bonus points as it is really easy to make.  All of the ingredients can be purchased at a regular grocery store.  I like to use really great quality chocolate like Ghirardelli for the best flavor.

Everyone who tastes these falls in love and begs for some to take home! Making them to please my special someone for a Valentine dessert this weekend.

Perfectly Easy Brownies

Ingredients:
– 2/3 c brown rice flour mix
– ½ tsp salt
– ½ tsp baking powder
– ½ tsp xanthan gum
– 2 oz unsweetened chocolate
– 4 oz semisweet chocolate
– ½ c butter
– 1 ¼ c sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 3 large eggs
– ¾ c chopped walnuts

Directions:
Heat oven to 325 F, with rack in middle of oven. Line bottom and side of 8 inch square pan with foil, spray with cooking spray. Mix dry ingredients in small bowl. Melt chocolates and butter in heavy medium sauce pan over low heat. Remove from heat, whisk in sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs one at a time. Whisk until mixture is smooth and glossy. Add flour mixture and whisk just until incorporated. Stir in nuts. Pour into prepared pan, bake 45 minutes until test (I use a steak knife or my fancy long tester skinny metal stick) in middle of pan comes out with wet crumbs. Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes, remove from pan by lifting out foil. Cool completely on rack and then cut into squares. Store in fridge for up to 5 days or freeze-wrapped in plastic wrap and foil.

Frankly, you won’t have much left over by the end of the second day! I dare anyone to think these are GF until you tell them!

Note: I sometimes add a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the flour mix to add extra kick to these kick ass brownies.

Flour Recipe
Ingredients
– 1 c brown rice flour
– 1/3 c potato starch (not potato flour)
– 3 tbsp tapioca flour

Posted originally in June 2014, some changes made for this posting.  This recipe comes from Gluten Free Baking Classics by Annalise G. Roberts.

Image

Kitchen Sink Energy Cookies

Always on the lookout for tasty, low sugar, gluten free snacks I made these kitchen sink cookies the other day. It was not a gf recipe but I made it so with a few adjustments and additions to suit my taste.  I used half sunflower seed butter and half chunky peanut butter. This produced a faint peanut buttery taste which I liked: I didn’t have that much sunflower seed butter on hand. They are fairly interchangeable in baking cookies. I used blueberry flavored dried cranberries. They are just one of the many flavors in these yummy treats. I suggest you can swap things out for similar quantities of additions. Or leave something out that you don’t care for.  They blend remarkably well into a delightfully tender result. I was delighted that they were not heavy from all those trail mix sort of ingredients. One cookie is just enough to hold me for a while until an actual mealtime is there…keeps the blood sugar fairly level.

I froze most of them for future enjoyment. I wouldn’t freeze for more than 2-3 months.

kitchen sink cookies

Trail Mix Cookies

Yield:  2 ½ dozen

Ingredients:

1 cup sunflower seed butter or half cup each of that and peanut butter

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup dates, chopped, I chopped whole soft dried figs

¼ cup sunflower seeds or slivered almonds (I used almonds)

½ cup raisins

¼ cup maple syrup

1 extra large egg

½ tsp vanilla

1/2 cup gf flour mix (I used King Arthur Basic Mix)

1/2 tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

1-2 Tbsp. chopped crystalized ginger (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon liners.

Place all of the ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until the ingredients are well incorporated. Drop generous tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets or. Bake for 12—14 minutes until cookies are set, but still soft.  Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet.  Store in airtight cookie jar or freeze in appropriate freezer containers; for no more than 3 months. Enjoy!

French Apple Tart….Ooh La La!

Tasty, crisp, ripe apples are pouring into the farmer’s markets and orchard stores right now.  This French apple tart is an old favorite of mine, been making it for years.  I once worked at an office where they would request it whenever we had an office function or party!  I have no idea where I got the original recipe from so I can’t give credit for it, I lost my copy and had to replicate the measurements a number of years ago. Plus, I had to change it a bit in the last time or two to make it gluten free but it tastes just as good as before.  The cinnamon and lemon topping are what makes it so delish.

french apple tart

It should be made with an apple variety that keeps its shape; Granny Smith is the best choice in that regard.  Don’t use one that goes all squishy like Empire or Macintosh.  You only need 3 large apples.

I use my GF tart shell crust which is from Annalise Roberts’ great cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  It is very easy; hand pressed into your tart pan.  I would say that this is a cookie crust; sweet and short; very yummy.

It should give you about 6-8 slices of tart. Lesser amount of slices if your family is piggy, the full eight slices if they are not big dessert eaters. I rarely have any of this tart left over for more than 24 hours.  It is very popular with everyone.  I like it for how easy it is to make, how handsome it looks and that I can throw it together quickly with only 3 apples and a lemon.

Crust

1 cup brown rice flour mix; recipe below

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. xanthan gum

5 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, in 5 chunks

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients in a stand mixer, cut in the butter by mixing it at a med low speed until crumbly.  Add vanilla and mix well.  If it is really dry looking add a tbsp. of water.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of your tart shell as evenly as you can make it.

For this recipe I use a large 10 inch tart pan.  Mine is ceramic so it doesn’t have a removable bottom.   Bake it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Filling

3 large Granny Smith apples; peeled and sliced – not thick or too thin

2 tbsp. sugar

1 tbsp. GF flour

Lay the apple slices in concentric circles in the tart pan over the crust.  Put them really close to each other so there isn’t a lot of space without apples on it.  Mix the sugar and flour and sprinkle over the apples.  Cover loosely with foil and bake 25-30 minutes until the apples are soft if pricked with a fork.  Do not bake until they collapse; the slices should still hold their shape.

While the tart is finishing up its baking time make the topping.

Topping

In a small heavy sauce pan place:

2 tbsp. sugar and 1 tbsp. cornstarch and mix them.

Add all the other ingredients:

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. lemon zest (grate the zest and then juice the lemon)

½ cup water

½ tsp. cinnamon

Cook over medium heat, stirring it constantly with a small whisk or a spoon, until it boils and seems thickened and is no longer opaque.  This should take less then five minutes.  Remove from heat and pour the hot gloppy topping carefully over the hot apple tart taking your time so you cover the entire surface of the apples.  If you like lots of cinnamon you could increase that up to a tsp. of cinnamon in the filling.

Let cool to at least lukewarm before serving.

This tart is perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  Don’t put it on top or it will not look so nice because of the French cinnamon topping won’t like to share its space with the chilly ice cream!

Brown Rice Flour Mix (for the crust)

2 c brown rice flour; be sure it is finely ground

2/3 c potato starch – Not potato flour!

1/3 c tapioca flour

Gluten Free, Low Carb Barbecue Feast

It can be a challenge making a party meal for family when I can’t eat gluten.  It got a bit more challenging this weekend when I made a meal for family including my brother. He recently had to go on a low carb diet for medical reasons, he is already slim and exercises a lot.  But, now he has to cut way back on carbs.  So no burgers with buns, no rolls, no big fat birthday cake for my mom. What to make? What kind of cake could we all eat?

I decided to go with this menu: deviled eggs to start, then grilled marinated chicken thighs, my version of doctored baked beans, old school potato salad and a veggie/fruit jello salad followed by a fruity pavlova for dessert.

pavlova

The deviled eggs are always popular; I gave my recipe early this spring for them and no one ever gets tired of them.  I made half with gherkins in them and half plain.  All gone in a matter of minute.

The potato salad is a family tradition; I used my sister Karen’s version because it tastes better than anyone else makes. I knew my mom would be pleased and my brother who probably doesn’t eat such treats except when he visits me.  I used Light Hellman’s Mayonnaise and light sour cream in my creamy dressing on the golden potato slices.  The seasonings are celery seeds, cider vinegar and some dill pickle juice!  I went light on the dressing for the sake of my brother and his wife who doesn’t eat much of any fat.  I added some chopped celery and a touch of chopped onion.  Yumm!

Our family loves the baked beans;  made quick and easy with a can of good quality old fashioned baked beans, Bush’s works perfectly but don’t use Campbells; they are just not as good a bean.  I often use the Giant name brand and they work great.

baked beans

For fun I put my Perfection Jello Salad in a copper lobster mold.  This was for the delight of my 2.8 year old grandson. He knows what a lobster is and loved it when the orange and golden mold was carried out on a large oval platter. My salad is created from lemon jello spiked with a touch of cider vinegar and full of well drained crushed pineapple and shredded carrots.  It was pretty and pretty tasty. I thought someone took a picture of it but no such luck.

pavlova

Dessert was a big pavlova meringue which I have posted the recipe to here recently.  This picture is from Sunday’s meal. I topped mine with slices of ripe kiwi, ripe local peaches and fresh raspberries as I was low on peaches and didn’t have time to run to Bechdolts Orchard for more….  Everyone devoured their slice and it was accorded five stars by my sister-in-law who doesn’t even eat cake normally.  It is fairly low in carbs and you get bites of ripe fresh fruit and tasty real whipped cream on the tender meringue. I put some candles on top and we sang happy birthday in the back yard as the sun set.  Perfect birthday barbecue….

Here is an approximation of my baked bean recipe: I never measure but I will do my best to replicate the proportions.

Mom’s Baked Beans (about 6 servings)

Ingredients:

4 slices of raw bacon cut into ½ inch chunks

One big can Bush’s original baked beans; 32 ounces I think

1 medium onion, chopped

About 1/3 to ½ cup of catsup

1-2 tbsp. yellow mustard

3-4 tbsp. cider vinegar

2-3 tbsp. light brown sugar

Fry the bacon in a large frying pan. I like cast iron best for this recipe but most any pan will do.  Once it is about ¾ done to your liking (4 to 6 minutes) add the chopped onion.  Cook 4-6 minutes until it is softening.  Open the beans and drain off any excess liquid especially any separated thinner liquid. Pour in the pan on top of the onions and bacon.  Dump in the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  Heat to a low bubble, turn down and allow it to cook slowly for 10 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently so the beans don’t stick and burn.  Taste it and adjust by adding more of any of the four condiments. I like it sweet and tart at the same time. I suggest you start with the lower amounts of condiments especially the sugar and vinegar and see how it is after cooking 5 minutes; add more to taste.  It is great warm but equally yummy left over cold for lunch the next day.

I sometimes make it in the dead of winter for a cold weather inside picnic.  Sure you can make the really slow cooked beans in a crock but this is addictively tangy and every member of my family adores it. My mom always made these beans and I finally got brave enough to just dump and create my own version which I must say is remarkably like Mom’s.

All in all it was a pretty good family meal, not too complicated as I could make the jello salad in advance and the meringue the day before. The potato salad and the beans could also be made in advance. You would never guess by the menu that this was a gluten free meal or a low carb one; just good old school yummy-ness on our plates!

Ridiculously Yummy Bacon Cheese Tomato Sandwich

Tomato time is right now.  I love a home grown tomato, sliced with vinaigrette, or with a dab of light mayo on it.  I love them inn a sandwich, a salad, Italian pasta dishes or as the major component of a tomato soup. 

There is a family recipe that is only made in the days of ripe local tomatoes.  It is never ever worth making with a winter or green house tomato.  Old varieties like Brandywine work great but any ripe tomato freshly picked and not chilled ever will work just fine.  Use whatever kind of tomato you like.

 tomato sandwich done

This sandwich is a man pleaser with bacon and cheese in it.  We call it the broiled tomato stacker or the BCT (Bacon Cheese and Tomato) You can call it fabulous and addictive!  It has the triple whammy of bacon, cheddar cheese, and juicy summer tomatoes.  Prepare to dive in and enjoy.

There are only five ingredients. I make it with GF bread but you can use any bread of your choice. Do not use cheap or light cheese; I like Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar but any good sharp cheddar will work.  I never met a bacon lover who didn’t fall instantly for this sandwich.

Angie’s BCT Stacker

This recipe for 2 open face sandwiches as I tend to eat less bread GF and you can really taste the components without that second slice.  If you want a top slice just double the bread. I used slices of zucchini yeast bread I made myself, recipe from Nicole Hunn, who authors the very popular Gluten Free on a Shoestring blog.  It holds together well and has a great yeasty savory flavor.  It is very easy to make and versatile.

Ingredients:

One big fat ripe tomato

2 slices GF bread

2 tsp. light mayonnaise

4 to 6 thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese

2 slices raw bacon cut in half.

Directions:

Fry the bacon until crispy, place on paper towels to drain

Set your broiler to high to heat. 

Use a knife to spread the mayo on the two slices of bread.  If you want a top slice I would leave that one un-spread and broil it briefly to brown one side.  Place the mayo bread slices on a metal broiler sheet. 

Slice your tomato into slices that are about 1/3 inch thick with a serrated knife; not thin slices and cover the entire tops of the bread with it. I often cut a tomato in half or quarters to piece it so every centimeter is covered with juicy ripe tomato.  Top with 2 slices of cheddar cheese, I cut them about ¼ inch thick.  I use 3 slices of cheese if the bread slice is large.  You want coverage over most of the tomato.  It will spread some when it melts. 

tomato sandwich unbroiled

Put the broiler pan in the broiler and broil 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted but not burnt.  Try not to overdo it as the cheese can run right off the tomatoes.   Remove from oven and place on a plate.  Top with the bacon slices.  If you broiled a top slice of bread put it on now.  Eat while hot but don’t burn your mouth on that melty gooey cheese!

tomato sandwich close up 

Yes, this recipe is not for a dieter and I imagine it is full of calories but also maximum flavor.  I make it a lot during tomato season and reason that I never eat it any other time of the year so I don’t worry about the fat or calories I am chowing down in this flavor feast.  Just make one and you will be hooked. I can’t wait to eat one for lunch tomorrow!

Peachy Keen Peach Cobbler

Peaches; peachy keen, peaches and cream, peach ice cream and peach cobbler.  Well, this post will be on peach cobbler and it is is peachy keen!  Still, I often make it with blueberries.  I am guessing most any fruit might work; blackberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, nectarines and apricots come to mind.

peach raspberry cobbler

This recipe is modified from one in Bette Hagman’s book, “More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet” and is based on a flour mix that will give you 4 cups of the dry ingredients for the topping.  One cup of dry mix plus the other ingredients will make an 8×8 pan of cobbler topping.  I bet two cups will make a big 9×13 pan of peach cobbler.

I have made it over a camp fire a few times, delish and not that difficult either.  But that will be a separate post as there are some tricks to campfire baking.

I have tried a number of cobbler recipes but nothing has tasted better than this one so I will stick to what works great for me.  If you use nectarines there is no peeling involved which makes it extra easy to throw together. I need to make a cherry cobbler but cherry season has passed.  Oh well, there are frozen cherries at the grocery store……

Mix this up and store in an airtight container in the freezer.

I always get the fruit cooking before putting the topping together so the fruit is hot and ready for the topping and can go right into the oven.  I used fat ripe peaches I bought at the Saucon Valley Fruit Stand for the first peach cobbler of the season and then some very flavorful ones from Bechdolt’s Farm Stand which made outstanding peachy cobbler.

Dry Cobbler Mix (store in freezer, makes enough for 4 cobblers)

2 ¼ cups white rice flour

½ cup potato starch

½ cup tapioca flour

1 tsp. baking soda

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1/3 cup sugar

Cobbler Topping

1 cup dry baking mix

2 eggs

2 tbsp melted butter or canola oil

1/3 cup milk/buttermilk (scant)

1/4 tsp. vanilla

Mix the wet ingredients and then add to the dry mix in a big bowl. Mix very briefly, just until combined.  I suggest adding the last tablespoon of wet stuff only if it seems to need it; better to have it thick than thin in consistency.

Fruit Filling

4 cups sliced ripe peeled peaches, nectarines, blueberries

½ tsp. almond extract

1/3-2/3 cup sugar depending on how sweet you want it

1 tbsp. minute tapioca

2 tbsp. GF flour

1./4 tsp cinnamon

peach cobbler in saucepan

Directions:

Mix the fruit and almond extract in a sauce pan. Stir together the tapioca, sugar, cinnamon and flour and mix into the fruit.  Cook on the stove top, medium heat, for 3-5 minutes until it is thickened and hot.  Pour into a buttered 8 inch square pan, top with big blops of the cobbler topping.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  The top should be light brown and spring back when you poke it with your finger.  If it looks damp or squishy bake it 5 more minutes.

peach cobbler in pan

Let cool 7 or 8 minutes before serving as it will burn your mouth right out of the oven!  Some people love it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Cobbler is perfect just on its own.

Between you and me, I recently made this cobbler with 4 fat peaches and a handful of fancy frozen raspberries as I felt there wasn’t quite enough peach slices. It tasted amazing!  The zing of the raspberries and the ripe peachy flavor mingle with the tender cobbler crust in an incredible blend that must be tasted and enjoyed ASAP! It is great with just ripe August peaches, just made one of those today.

Strawberry Basil Yogurt, a Great Snack

Greek yogurt is the new power dairy snack, favored by teachers, moms, office workers and many others seeking a portable tasty yet healthy snack.  I eat it too.  But sometimes I want a more basic, yet above average, yogurt.  My secret for great yogurt is one brand; Stonyfield Organic.  I buy the large 32 ounce container.  I usually get the plain, one percent low fat yogurt.  Organic milk makes creamy flavorful yogurt, far superior to any made with non-organic milk.  Occasionally I treat myself to Stonyfield’s whole milk yogurt. This is thick, creamy and oh so delicious.  The top layer is like cream yogurt; crazy yummy!  I eat a dish of this yogurt with fresh jam, all that jam that I don’t eat on toast anymore.  I know, whole milk! But sometimes you have to enjoy the best that life can give you and frankly experts say that non-fat yogurt is less healthy than yogurt with some fat.  Go on, live wild and try this fabulous organic yogurt.

Update; 11/21/14: a new article about the dangers of highly sweetened and additive filled yogurts specifically says the best choices are organic whole milk yogurts: http://www.cornucopia.org/yogurt.  I was right on the money with my recommendation of Stonyfields yogurt and my use of homemade jams and granola to flavor it up.  Much better for you and your kids!  Tastier too actually.

strawberry and stonyfield yogurt

You can also enjoy this yogurt with honey drizzled on top.  Sprinkled with my homemade granola it is very healthy, filling, and delightful tasting.

Late this past June I made some strawberry basil jam.  The other day I got the excellent idea to put it on top of my organic yogurt.  It was amazing tasting, the creamy mild yogurt stirred together with that fragrant fruity jam. Oh my goodness, a whole world away from commercially flavored fruit yogurts.

yogurt and strawberry basil jam

So here is my strawberry basil freezer jam recipe.  My friend Josh had purchased some and raved about the flavor.  I decided to make my own.  Well, it is great on toast and extremely yummy on your yogurt! It is not too much basil flavor, the strawberry predominates but you do get a taste of it when ever you encounter a bit of basil leaf.  I actually only made half a jam recipe as that was all the strawberries I had available that day.  I used the liquid Surejell, half the package.

strawberry basil jam 1

Strawberry Basil Freezer Jam 

yield: 5 cups

INGREDIENTS:

about 1 pound of fresh ripe strawberries (2 cups crushed strawberries)

4 cups granulated sugar

one 1.75 ounce package of fruit pectin (I used liquid Sure Jell)

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves, really fine!

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, mash strawberries using a potato masher. Measure out two cups and return to bowl. If there are extras, you can eat those. But you want to pretty exact with this recipe.

To the 2 cups of mashed strawberries, stir in 4 cups of granulated sugar. Mix well to combine and moisten all the sugar and then let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine fruit pectin and 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. When it boils, set a timer for one minute. Continue to stir constantly and then remove from heat when it has boiled for one minute.

Stir pectin and water mixture into the fruit and sugar mixture. Stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is no longer grainy.

Pour mixture into freezer containers with tight fitting lids (jars work great). Let jam stand at room temperature for 8 hours before moving to the fridge or freezer. If you freeze it, thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready to use.