Pear Spice Muffins…Another Snack Option

I had few portable baked snacks and a few bosc pears so I figured it was time for a new muffin recipe. This is a riff off a recipe out of Annalise Robert’s cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics. It is  similar to my recipe for apple nut muffins that I created from her banana muffin recipe. If I had to have just one GF cookbook hers would be the one for me.

Do use a fairly firm pear; I used a bosc which is naturally great for baking but almost any firm pear will do. Notice I didn’t say “hard”. Nope to that; not gonna taste great.  Don’t chop them super fine or big; 1/3 inch dice is good.

I always enjoy eating a muffin still warm out of the oven. It is smart to freeze any you won’t eat in 2 days; ziplock freezer bag works great.  They make super snacks.  These  muffins are kinda delicate; if you want to take them on a hike or car ride put them in a plastic food box – the rigid sides will keep your muffins safe from crushing.

Pear Spice Muffins              

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 c granulated sugar (can use coconut palm sugar: just increase milk by 2 Tbsp.)

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

skimpy 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1  1/2  c chopped firm pear; peel and core! (about 2 pears)

½ c chopped walnuts

2 large eggs beaten

½ c milk, 1 or 2 percent

½ c canola oil

DIRECTIONS:  Heat oven to 375, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 14-16 muffins.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl

Add pear chunks and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix

Combine milk and oil,  Beat in eggs.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir until blended.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump in each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with a bit of raw old fashioned oatmeal; 2-3 Tbsp. should do it or try  cinnamon sugar.

Bake 20-24 min until golden brown. I used my convection setting and did them for 17 minutes. Perfect. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Rest five minutes and then remove from the pans and cool on a rack.

Freezes well for up to 3 weeks.  Keeps in fridge (well wrapped) a few days.

Brown Rice Flour Mix base mix
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour

Roasty Chicken Soup

Dear Readers, I am sorry I have been out of touch. This has been a crazy January. My family situation has changed: I am now the custodial grandparent of a seven-year-old boy; now enrolled in first grade. I am loving having Aiden here but it has been complicated to set up and a bit of an adjustment. Been too busy and too tired to write posts late at night like I used to. Plus, I got sick last Saturday with a small cold and a serious case of laryngitis. Snow days yesterday and today are allowing my voice to heal and to give me time to catch up with the wreck of my daily life!  The roads today forced a late closure and so we are home spending quality time together. He is taking a nap; wish I was! And I am finally writing a post.

Sick with a cold absolutely seems to require chicken soup. I made mine from scratch, of course! Actually, I made the broth in my Instant Pot and then roasted some veggies in my broiler. My oven has been very difficult in recent weeks. I felt lucky to get the oven to turn on for a bit after I browned the vegetables on a tray in the broiler area of my smaller oven. I believe this is a trendy thing to do for soup and it is also a great way to easily add deep flavor to your soup veggies. I will give you my whole recipe; you can buy some broth or make it however you prefer to. I find it extra easy to do it in my IP!  I was super pleased with how much richer and more flavorful it came out: better than any chicken soup I have ever made. And that pot of homemade chicken broth helped enrich the flavor a lot. Worth the effort and you get all that great cooked chicken.  Super easy to do actually; and well worth it if you want a great start to a homemade soup. It goes without saying that you could put cooked rice in this soup instead of noodles. Enjoy!

Here is my pot of chilled homemade chicken broth.  Pure gold~~

chicken broth

cold homemade chicken broth

 

Angie’s Roasty Chicken Noodle Soup

Broth Ingredients

1 whole small chicken; 3-4 lbs

1-2 stalks celery broken into large chunks

1 small carrot; broken similarly

1 small-medium onion peeled and sliced into fat wedges

2 big garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp. kosher salt, ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1-2 bay leaves

1 tsp. chopped rosemary (optional)

Put the carrot, celery and onion chunks in the IP pot; add the whole chicken to the IP: don’t forget to remove the giblets and all plastic packaging! Add all the rest of the ingredients and add filtered water to barely cover the bird. Put on the lid, set the manual pressure to 35 minutes and let’r rip! Allow it to naturally release for 10-15 minutes before opening.  Let cool; remove bird and cut up; throw out everything but the meat. Strain the broth; throwing out all the worn-out veggies left in your colander. There; amazing broth!

roasty veggies

Veggie Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut into wedges

2 celery stalks; cut into 3-4 inch lengths

2 carrots; cut into sticks

1-2 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 turnip or rutabaga (optional but I love it’s earthy flavor) cut into wedges; size of onion wedges [you could use mushrooms instead]

Put veggies on a baking tray you sprayed with cooking spray. Pour some EVOL on; 1-2 Tbsp. Stir around to coat. Sprinkle with ½ tsp. sea salt and a bit of black pepper if you like. Broil for 10-20 min; checking frequently. I turned mine over once the top side got well browned. A few blackened bits are okay; they add flavor! But don’t burn the heck out of the veggies or you will have to start over. Once all is browned and tender pull out and let cool.

roasty chicken soup in pot

Ingredients for finishing soup:

¾ cup broken wide gf egg noodles or rice noodles

big sprig of fresh thyme

½ cup frozen peas

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley

1-2 cups chopped cooked chicken

Pour the broth into a large sauce pan. Heat. Chop coarsely the roasted veggies, removing the garlic clove outer skin.  Add them to the soup. Let heat; add about ¾ cup broken wide gf egg noodles or rice noodles. And a big sprig of fresh thyme. Cook as long as the package says. In the last 3 minutes add ½ cup frozen peas and 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley. Taste and add more salt/pepper as you wish. Add 1 cup chopped cooked chicken from the broth making and serve as soon as it is hot. Enjoy! roasty chicken soup

 

 

 

Pancetta and Parmesan Cheese Kettle Chips….Yes…I went there!

I bought something this week that I never buy, never. Potato chips…shocking  breach of my personal rules but these were something special; pancetta and Parmesan cheese kettle chips from Aldi’s.  Damn. they are good! So crispy and I can definitely taste the cheese and the pancetta. Not overly strong; perfect balance of porkiness, cheesy and greasy (I find all chips kinda greasy) – a total flavor explosion of crunch and munch.

The usual (more or less) amount of carbs, not too much sodium per serving and no trans fats. One gram of saturated fat per serving.

Just have to say, these chips are freaking addictive. I could eat the whole bag but I am rationing them as chips are totally not on my diet.

kettle chips

They are so good I almost didn’t want to tell you about them. Keep every darn bag for myself! Decided that wasn’t possible so I bit the bullet and am telling you. Guessing they are limed edition as many treats at Aldi’s are so run out immediately and get a bag or two. Or three.

They also have some with rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Gotta get a bag of that!

Fire Roasted Blueberry Pie…Yeap We Did That!

 

On our vacation this past week we enjoyed a bonfire one clear evening. Yes; a rain free day! Well, we were in the Finger Lakes not eastern PA, LOL!  It was glorious to relax in our chairs at the tiny private beach we were so lucky to have… by the crackling fire Joe and I built of driftwood and some aging firewood our host wanted burnt. It was a deep pleasure to sit there relaxing by the waxing moon and a bit of star light, watching the fire flicker against the background of lapping, dark lake water.

We don’t really do the toasted marshmallow thing as he dislikes such and I am not supposed to eat overly sweet treats.  So, no marshmallows by the fire. But, then I had a great idea. I cut a wide slice of the blueberry apricot pie I had baked and brought with us. pie missing a sliceI put it on a double folded piece of heavy strength aluminum foil and bending up the sides a bit to catch any runoff, should that occur. Then I put the pie on my foil raft and slid it onto a couple branches just off the main fire. We let it heat for ten minutes and checked; not quite as hot as wanted. Five more minutes to wait, patience grasshopper! Then, used my potholder to slide it out of the fire zone onto a china plate. We dug in. Perfection. The crust had regained its flakiness of two days earlier and the filling was nearly molten and so sweetly flavorful with a hint of smokiness. Sitting in the dark sharing a slice of hot toasty blueberrilishish pie. Priceless!

 

The next night was rainy so we had to cancel our planned fire. Instead, we relaxed in our tiny cabin while I grilled the pie on the gas flames of our grill. Pretty much just as yummy and super convenient if you don’t have a fire. Next time you go camping or have access to a grill and have any sort of pie; try grilling it for a sweet warm treat. Enjoy! pie 2

Darn Good GF Pizza You can Bake at Home

Sometimes you just need a pizza! And there is time to make a crust or grate cheese or any of that. Just a decent gluten free pizza, that’s all I’m asking…but, not that easy unless you are willing to pay about $13-16 for the same or even a smaller size that is half the price for regular wheat flour-based pizza!  Major bummer. But, fret not, Aldi’s to the rescue; they had some by Mama Cozzie in the refrigerator case. I got a pepperoni and mott pizza to test it; $6…not a bad price!  Baked it two days later; put the cold pie directly on hot oven shelf as requested.  In 11-13 minutes it is done; let it cool 2-3 minutes! Otherwise, it is a wicked way to burn your mouth.

aldi pizza box

I should admit I doctored it up with some dried basil and oregano, garlic powder and store grated parmesan cheese. It was so good; thin crust. Great flavor from the pepperoni and the add-ons I sprinkled over it deepen ed the flavor significantly. So I am definitely getting it next time I see – the package says you can freeze it; so maybe buy a few and freeze all but one.

aldi pizza slice

So that’s a big yes to this Mama Cozzie pizza; about 15 inches in diameter unbaked. It says 4 servings but unless they are small kids it is really more like 3. Great quick lunch or worry-free Friday night meal. Add a salad and you are eating healthyish!

Bratwursts From Aldi’s are the Best!

This post is an addendum to my buckwheat crepe post of the other day. I neglected to tell you how delish the bratwurst were in my crepe wrap entree. I bought the package of 4 uncured Bavarian bratwurst at Aldi’s. They were kinda pale and unexciting looking in the shrink wrap but when I pan fried them in a bit of olive oil they browned up nicely. Each brat was still juicy and tender with a delicate flavor I was very impressed with. bratwurst

 

I have bought brats before at other grocery stores and found them rather dull and pedestrian. These are thinner, longer and far tastier.  bratwurst packageUncured means they have less junk added in the curing process of many sausages.  Definitely a yummy and healthyish choice for sausage in any recipe. They cook in about ten minutes.  And grilling them is on the package as an alternative to the frying pan. Next time I will try them on my grill. Maybe for camping…

They are imported from Germany so I am guessing they are very authentic compared to stuff made in the USA. I give these an A plus in every category. Enjoy!

Chicken Curry; Almost In a Hurry!

Curry is such a treat: smells incredible cooking, such a fun experience to make and full of marvelous flavor. Going gluten free has kept me from eating Indian food out, as much of restaurant cooking can contain wheat based flours.  So, making it myself is the best, cheapest option. I have been cooking Indian food for decades. First vegetarian and then I added meat/poultry or fish based curries to my repertoire. My favorites include this recipe that I am sharing today. It is relatively simple curry and despite all the spices, there isn’t that much fancy cooking involved. A week ago I made it for a friend who was visiting from out of state and she loved it, practically polished her plate! I served it with a simple salad of thinly sliced radishes and raw zucchini with a dressing made of EVOL and fresh Meyer lemon juice.  Just a touch of kosher salt and some fresh pepper and I whisked that dressing until it was really thick. It made a good counterpoint to the spicy highly-flavored curry. You could use slices of European cucumber which I often do.

This is made with chicken pieces, my favorite being thighs; bone in. You could make it with any cut you like but if you go boneless I strongly suggest lowering the cooking time somewhat. Skin on or removed; your choice. I generally leave it on as it adds flavor and moistens the thigh but if you are dieting, it can be removed.

You can’t make this with “curry powder” – it just must have the correct spices. I do have trouble getting inexpensive spices due to cross contamination and even just simply labels that say wheat added. It is incredibly annoying to buy coriander and get home and notice that it says wheat added to it. This happened to me last week; bought it at Giant grocery store in the Hispanic section; Badia label; be very careful if you buy that brand. I recommend McCormick single spices or Simply Organic (found at Wegmans); pricy but generally high quality and safe for celiac sufferers who love cooking spicy food!

My recipe is out of an old cookbook by Charmine Solomon; “Indian Cooking for Pleasure”, published in 1978.  I looked for a new copy on Amazon and it would cost a minimum of $82! I think I paid $10 or $15 for it new back then. Crazy price now; but it is considered the gold standard that all other Indian cookbooks are measured against so clean copies seem to be much sought after. Maybe it will be reissued… I could use a new copy; mine is a bit of a mess from 30 years of hard usage but then, I would lose all my handwritten notes so, nope on that! I did alter it slightly as I made it for 4 servings rather than six and I think my version is not quite as spicy as hers. If you want super spicy add a fourth more of each spice. This recipe is native to the province of Uttar Pradesh.

Notes: I used canned tomatoes for this recipe but, in the summer I always use fresh tomatoes when available. Plum tomatoes work well if ripe summer ones are not around and you want fresh.

chicken dopizia curry

Not the prettiest entree but I promise you it will be one of the most flavorful you ever eat!

Chicken Dopiaza (serves 4)

4 good sized chicken thighs

3 large onions

2 medium or one large medium spicy fresh pepper like a poblano; not a hot one though!

2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. ground coriander

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

¾ of a can of chopped tomatoes or 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

½ cup water

1 ½ tsp. sea salt

Directions: Sauté half the onions in a large frying pan which you heated and added the olive oil to it. Keep stirring them. You want a mostly caramelized end result.  May take 15-18 minutes.  Remove from pan using a slotted spoon so you leave behind some of the oil and set aside for adding back near the end of this process.

While the onions are caramelizing…to your blender add the rest of the (raw) onions, the chopped hot pepper, the fresh garlic, fresh ginger and about ¼ cup water. Blend to a thick puree; if you need a bit more water to make that happen okay but don’t add a lot.  Pour that into the hot pan that you just removed the caramelized onions and add all the spices.  Stir as it cooks…let it darken and the oil will show a touch around the edges.  Add the tomatoes, stir and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them with the puree. Add water and salt. Cover and cook about 35 minutes until chicken is tender. Add the onions back in the last 4-5 minutes.  Cook maybe 5 more minutes.  Serve with rice or Indian bread like parathas.  I haven’t made any gf parathas yet.  Soon!  This goes well with a cucumber salad or some steamed snap peas as I show in my photograph of my supper before I dived in! Enjoy!