Yes, This IS the Best Yam Casserole EVER! 2.0 Version for Double the Delish

 

I started making this simple side dish six years ago; we have enjoyed it for a number of holidays.  I like it alongside a roasted meat like ham or turkey.  I always serve it on Thanksgiving Day: far healthier than that casserole full of sugar and marshmallows.  For all the yummy food I serve for big feasts, this humble side dish often gets the most praise.  There generally is very little leftover. I made it last week for a teacher luncheon; no leftovers 😦 but some raves!

I love it because it is healthier than most yam/sweet potato casseroles.  It is free of gluten, grains, eggs and refined (read white) sugar.   If you use something other than butter it can be dairy free too.  No tons of butter, marshmallows or cup of brown sugar.  Less than a quarter cup of sweeteners make this a good choice for pre-diabetes.  I generally use the coconut oil rather than butter; it adds a subtle flavor I enjoy.  Plus yams themselves are quite good for you. We love their natural sweetness.easter-036

And it is so easy to throw together. Just peel and dice up the yams, mix up the other ingredients in a small saucepan and pour over, bake and enjoy.  So easy but the flavor is subtle yet very pleasing.  I suggest 4 large yams but I often use 5 or 6 smaller ones. Simple, tasty and healthy; side dish home run!

yam casserolle

It shrank a bit in the pan but still a nice amount of delish to share. Looked fantastic before I took it to the luncheon; darn but I forgot to take a picture….

NOTE: I am doubling this for all those who wish for a bigger pan of this delish side. Look at old posts for the smaller version!

Honey Spiced Yams

8 good sized yams
1/2 c. butter (or coconut oil)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
4 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger (dry not fresh)
1 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes (yams), peel if you like (it’s not all that necessary), chop into fairly uniform 1/2 inch cubes or do 1/4 inch slices and place them in a 9×13 inch baking dish that you sprayed with cooking spray. Be sure NOT to use the one with flour added…. Over low heat, melt the butter and coconut oil in a heavy small saucepan. Stir in the honey, molasses, and spices. Mix and drizzle over sweet potatoes, then sprinkle with salt. Stir to evenly coat, then bake for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes or until yams are fork-tender. I like to stir it up once or twice while it bakes so that yummy sauce can sink into every bite of yam.

I can’t remember where I found this recipe: I think it was in a magazine.  The original version left the skin on but I am not that brave with company; but go ahead and try it….let me know if people like it that way.  This recipe was originally posted by me in late 2014.

 

Mad for Waffles!

Camping is fun for me; I love to cook over an open fire or on the camp stove. Summer is a great time for fresh produce. If you can combine cooking and being in nature that is the best deal for me!

Now this is car camping, you know… where you drive there with a trunk full of sleeping bags, tent, tarps, comfy clothes, cook stove, lanterns, and coolers of food… So I had lots food and I also brought my cast iron waffle maker; an antique from the 1920s that was my sister Margie’s and before that my parents.  It was kinda messed up when she gave it to me but Joe and I worked hard to bake off the crud and now it works fantastically… and corn on the cob, shrimp and swordfish (frozen), half frozen chicken thighs, lamb loin chops and a zillion other food items.   Nothing like traveling light!

So we enjoyed some good food. For breakfast I made waffles, then  pancakes, and then more waffles the third morning.  The pancakes are lovely; for a year or two I just couldn’t find any pancakes that measured up to what I felt they should taste like.  These are from Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s cookbook. Sometimes I add extra milk if they are too thick. I pour the batter right out of a mixing bowl with a pour spout onto the griddle.

And, again, I forgot to take pix of the waffle iron in action; so here is that recipe (my version; based on a pancake recipe in Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts. This recipe is great for camping because buttermilk travels better than regular milk and it also uses oil not butter in the waffle; easier to deal with than melting butter on the camp stove…. The other week I was out of buttermilk and used kefir, a fermented milk; worked fantastically.

waffle

Cinnamon Waffles (for 2; double for 4 people)

1 cup brown rice flour mix

1 tbsp. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

1 ¾ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. cinnamon

1 large egg, well beaten

2 tbsp. canola oil or melted butter plus extra for greasing griddle.

2/3 cup buttermilk

½ tsp. vanilla extract

cooking spray (kind with no flour in it)

Directions:  To make it portable; measure the dry ingredients into a zip-lock baggie. I like to write the other ingredients on with a black Sharpie marker and label it waffles…so you don’t use the pancake mix by mistake!  Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl, add the oil, buttermilk and vanilla (optional when camping but I did bring it this summer and they were so yummy). Pour the dry mix into the bowl and whisk briefly until fairly well mixed.

While you are doing that mixing step the waffle iron should be heating.  I use a round cast iron waffle iron; please do spray it with cooking spray before heating and then I melt about 1-2 tsp. of butter into the 4 quarters; I blop the chunk around with a fork so some melts into each part of the iron.  Flip the iron over just before putting in the batter. I use a big spoon to glop it into the waffle iron.  One big glop in each half.  Close the iron and let it bake about 2 minutes. Flip it and bake 1-2 more minutes, or however long your waffle iron takes.  I serve it with real maple syrup; something this good deserves the best.  Before I serve the first waffle I break off a section and eat it hot and plain; you can really taste the cinnamon that way.  Make sure your waffles are crisp not soft. The crisp is Everything!

We had scrambled eggs and maple flavored sausage links; both go fantastically well with waffles.

Brown Rice Flour Mix (it is the same as King Arthur’s gf flour mix)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Originally posted in July 2015 and again in 2016  and 2017 with minor text revisions. Recipe the same.

Ratatouille Is Summer on A Plate!

Summer time is the best time to cook with garden produce; makes the most sense, that’s when they are at their peak of quality and variety. I love to make this dish every year in the late summer particularly when I have most of the vegetables growing in my garden.  Ratatouille is a French dish made of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers and lots of olive oil and basil. To me it tastes more Italian with all those veggies and the olive oil and basil. It’s a great side dish with grilled meats or fish and I love it inside an omelet or alongside a slice of quiche.  And yes, I know there was a kids movie out in 2007 by the same name.  Disney even came out with their own recipe for ratatouille!

Lots of veggie chopping for this delicious dish and then you should stir it carefully as the mixture cooks in a big pan. I like to make it in a wok or paella dish. I have a Teflon paella dish that I use these days; holds a lot and things don’t stick to it.

Tips: The amounts are somewhat fluid; I don’t really measure the veggies; just use an approximate amount. Be sure to cook the eggplant until it is mostly done before proceeding to the next step or your dish will be less than stellar.  You can use red, orange, yellow or green bell peppers and yellow summer squash works just as good as zucchini. I used a huge pale green bell pepper in my photographed version. Just makes sure all your vegetables are fresh and best quality.

 

 

 

 

Ratatouille  by Angela, makes about six servings

Ingredients:

2 medium onions

4 tbsp. olive oil divided

1 large eggplant – cut into rounds and then across into ½ in slices (don’t peel)

1 med zucchini  – cut into 1/3 inch rounds and halved

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 garlic cloves – minced

1 large red or green bell pepper- cut into long slices, can half them

1-2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. brown sugar, optional

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 tsp. sea salt (to taste)

Directions:

Put 3 tbsp. of the oil in a large frying pan; 16 inch or wok works well. Add the eggplant slices and toss the slices around to evenly soak up the oil.  Fry turning occasionally; try to get them at least half done and then add the zucchini half moons.  Keep frying until both are just about done.  Turn out into a big bowl.  Add the rest of the olive oil and when it is hot; add the onion bits. Cook about 5-6 min until softening.  Add garlic and cook a minute.  Add the sliced pepper and cook 5-6 minutes until softening.  Add the diced tomato.  Stir well.  Cook about 5-6 minutes and add the tomato paste and sugar, stir well, add back the zuke/eggplants and  until mixture looks mostly done; maybe 10 min.  Add the basil and salt and cook another couple of minutes. spicy tomato jam 006  Great cold the next day; aging in the fridge melds the flavors together.

Originally posted in  September 2016, minor changes in text.

Great Hamburger Buns

I recently shopped at a Trader Joe’s in Massachusetts. Bought some interesting stuff. One item I was really pleased with was a pack of gluten free hamburger bun. They even had sesame seeds all over the top! The flavor and texture was very close to what I remember of gluten based burger buns. Firm enough to hold a burger and fine for a sandwich. The bonus for me was that each bun was full sized; my beloved ciabatta buns by Schar are a tad small when it comes to holding a typical burger. Great price point too. Win Win!

gluten-free-hamburger-buns

Longing for Trader Joe’s to take the plunge and put a store in the Lehigh Valley; third biggest metro center in Pennsylvania. Soon!

Brown Rice Risotto (Wild Mushroom version)

Risotto is a favorite rice dish at my house. I generally use arborio rice, short fat white grains. It takes about 18-20 minutes to cook on the stovetop. Someone got me a bag of short grained brown rice. Saturday I tried it out for risotto. And, as it takes longer than white rice, I made it in my Instant Pot pressure cooker; easier, faster and less heat in my kitchen. It was pretty tasty. And super healthy as brown rice is a whole grain. This was a wild mushroom risotto made with chicken of the woods shrooms which I had harvested last fall and frozen partially precooked. Delicious! Baby bella or cremini mushrooms would work well; slice and sauté before adding to the recipe. Or sub in a cup of frozen peas or barely cooked chopped asparagus.

wild mushroom risotto

Yes, those mushrooms are pink! This is a dish of leftover risotto; not as creamy as first cooked was.

Wild Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto

 

Ingredients:

1 cup brown short grain rice

1 Tbsp. olive oil

½ c diced onion

1 garlic clove minced

1/3 c dry white wine

1 2/3 cups chicken broth

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup cooked wild mushrooms; 1 ½ c sliced mushrooms cooked in 2 Tbsp butter 3-6 minutes

1/3-1/2 cup just grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Put IP on sauté feature, let heat then add olive oil. Add finely diced onion, cook 4-5 minutes, stir often. Add rice, stir and cook a minute, add wine, cook a minute, add garlic, stir and cook 30 seconds. Add broth and salt. Put on lid, lock and put on pressure for 35 minutes. While it cooks sauté the shrooms. At end of 35 minutes do a quick release, open, stir and add the mushrooms, stir and add cheese, grind on black pepper.  Stir and serve. Enjoy!

Note, if watery you can put on sauté for 3-5 minutes to dry it out some. Or, if dry add up to a quarter cup more broth.

risotto and firey salmon

Summer supper perfection: dilly cuke salad, corn on cob and firecracker salmon fillets with the risotto.

Crab Cake Feast!

Crab is my weakness, I love to pick out steamed Maryland blue crabs, love lump crab sautéed with shrimp and adore crab soup. Today I bring you a classic: the deluxe crabcake!  We were on vacation in the Finger Lakes and as our bungalow had a full kitchen and gluten free seemed to be scarce, we made all our breakfasts and suppers. I got this big one lb. can of lump crab meat on sale at Valley Farm Market. Add some homemade gf bread crumbs (leftover French bread), eggs and a touch of seasoning; then wait patiently as the cakes brown and you will be rewarded with a big luscious crab cake. I skipped Worcestershire Sauce and Old Bay Seasoning but they are certainly traditional additions.

Chilling the crab mixture is critical to a good crab cake. It truly is vital.

We had crabcake sandwiches a day later for a delish quick picnic lunch under a tree at Niagara Falls. Schar’s gf ciabatta rolls were perfection after I smeared a dab of mayo mixed with Dijon mustard and a leaf of homegrown lettuce. A baggie of cold grapes completed our rapid yet relaxed repast.

crab cakes

Big and juicy crammed full. of lump crab meat! No preparation pictures: on vacation!

Angie’s Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

1 lb. lump crab meat

2/3 cup gf bread crumbs

2 eggs

2-3 Tbsp. light mayonnaise

1 ½ tsp. best quality Dijon mustard

½ tsp. sea salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1-2 Tbsp finely chopped red pepper (optional)

2-3 Tbsp finely chopped onion or green onion

1-2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

 

Directions: Pick over crab meat for shells. Beat eggs in large bowl with a whisk until broken up.  Add mayo, mustard, salt, black pepper, garlic, chopped pepper, parsley, and onion, Stir, add crab and crumbs, stir gently.  Chill in fridge 30-60 minutes. Form into 5-6 large cakes. We did five big cakes! Add more crumbs if necessary.  Place on a large plate, cover tightly and chill 30-60 minutes. Heat a 50-50 mixture of butter and mild olive oil or canola; enough to well coat a cast iron fry pan and slide the cakes gently in. Maybe 5 minutes a side; until golden brown.

Some serve with tarter sauce. We had ours with rice pilaf, corn on the cob and homegrown snap peas. Enjoy!

Steak Fajitas Done Easy!

Okay, so I’ve been wanting to make gluten free flat bread, aka flour tortillas for a long long time; just been a bit exhausted and too busy for the effort of trying new recipes. Well, I think I found a keeper; found on healthystartsinthekitchen.com. You make it in a lidded quart mason jar; dump ingredients in, shake up the batter really well and pour a quarter cup into a cast iron fry pan or griddle; tilt to spread it a bit, bake on both sides 1-2 minutes and then pop in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to finish the center. flat bread

Great as a wrap for my steak fajitas. I had some leftover flank steak cooked on the grill. It was a bit tough and kinda boring but sliced thin and briefly warmed on the hot griddle after the flat breads were done; just right. I laid a few slices across a flatbread, topped with finely shredded fresh cabbage, a few thin sliced rounds of cucumber and a bit of sliced ripe avocado. Topped it with a 50/50 mixture of mayo and unflavored yogurt. A great steak fajita is ready to gobble up with very little effort.

 

steak fajita 4The recipe is available on her site: 1/2 cup almond flour, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, some water, onion and garlic powder, sea salt and pepper. Says it makes four but I got 3 medium sized ones. Next time I will double it. They were tasty warm from oven. A very simple to construct (few ingredients and just easy) and extremely useful recipe. Give it a try next time you need a gf flour tortilla. You may be very pleased and it is a fraction the cost of those tough, dry and bland gf wraps you can buy…if you can even find any at your store.  I also like that it takes no weird flours or tricky processes to create these crispy treats. Enjoy!