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

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.

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OMG: More Good Stuff at Aldi’s!


More Aldi’s reviews.  Went back this Friday for gardening gear and came away with that and so much more!  Last time I got some of the General Tso’s Chicken; frozen Chinese meal; general Tzo's chickenbreaded chicken chunks and packets of sauce. I served mine over brown rice with side of steamed broccoli.  It was pretty good, especially since I really haven’t eaten out for Chinese food in over 2 years.  I can’t find any local places that are truly safe in terms of gluten.  Soy sauce is a big issue not to mention the cross contamination problems.  I don’t think I will eat it regularly; not cheap and it is prepared food so there are additives and more salt, fat and sugar than I would like.  Still, I sure enjoyed it. For me the 22 ounce package made 3 regular servings, not the 4.5 the package says.

 

cheddar crackersThis time I got some  crazy yummy LiveGfree gluten free cheddar cheese crackers.  They were more than a little additive, reminding me of Cheezits. Only 110 calories for 28 crackers. I enjoyed them as I pulled out of the Aldi’s parking lot, starved and they were handy!.

 

Then I saw this item in the bargain bin, bought it and later tested the fusion Jerky Island Teriyaki Artisan Pork Jerky, tasty if a bit chewy.  Really long time since I had jerky so I honestly don’t remember what it tastes like much less the chew factor. pork jerky  Still, a handy portable snack.  The package advertises no artificial ingredients and minimally processed.  There were two other flavors, one was garlic jalapeño and chipotle lime, thinking on them….

 

roasted popcornAnd then there was the somewhat tasty spicy Roasted Sweet Corn Popcorn. I thought it a tad dry, rather roasty for me.  I didn’t eat too much of it, yet.  Maybe it will grow on me.

 

There are so many gluten free food items at Aldi’s these days I have to stop and just walk away towards the register, I want them all.  But I don’t like to eat too much processed foods so I try to restrain myself.  Looking for fruit, I did buy a big bag of navel oranges for three bucks and chose some USDA Choice stew meat for making my beef goulash this weekend. They have some fairly decent fruits and veggies; seems like more than in past months. Worth a trip especially if you eat gluten free.

Aldi’s has a lot of gardening, patio, camping, outdoor dining gear at great prices if you need some of that sort of thing.  I went for some garden stuff and came away with the cheese crackers and other food items…well I was actually looking for those crackers; heard they were tasty.  And I found a sweet looking, pale blue glass Mason jar patio light for my porch set.  Cool!  mason jar light

Turkey Posole, A Savory Mexican Stew

I am betting you have some roast turkey in the fridge or freezer, maybe a pint of gravy too?  Well, I have just the recipe for you, courtesy of foodnetwork.com.  It is nothing like most traditional turkey leftover recipes.  It is a Mexican stew.  Posole stew can easily be gluten free. Just use care choosing your chicken broth and your tortilla chips that accompany this savory soup.

I have been making it every fall after Thanksgiving and always look forward to a few bowls of it.  Spicy, crunchy, tangy; unlike any other soup I make.  It is called turkey posole. It can be made with roasted pork and I have done so.  I like it far better with roast turkey.  I have served this stew to many people and it is always well received and enjoyed, even by my elderly mother.  I haven’t made my 2014 batch but it is coming next week to my dinner table.  Can’t wait!

posole stew

Ingredients

2 tbsp mild olive oil or canola oil

2 medium onions chopped

4 cloves garlic chopped fine

1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped fine –use two if you like it spicy

1 tbsp. ground cumin

1 GF beer (can use 1 cup water if you want but it gives more flavor)

Coarse salt and pepper

12-16 tomatillos; about 2 lbs, take off the paper cover and chop up.  Can coarsely chop in food processor

5-6 sprigs fresh thyme; chop it up off the stems.

1 15-17 ounce can hominy

1 qt chicken stock (can be part gravy)

1 ½ to 2 lbs chopped turkey meat; can be mixture of light and dark

1 lime juiced

Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish

Tortilla chips; the ones with lime go particularly well with this.

tortilla chips

Cook first six ingredients about 5 min in a large stock pot.  Add beer, cook one minute.  Add chopped tomatillos and cook 5-6 minutes until softened.  Add hominy, thyme and stock and cook 15 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  Add lime juice, stir well.  I never use cilantro; something I just don’t like, but feel free to add it as the original recipe uses a bunch of it.

We ladle the posole into bowls and serve lots of white tortilla chips to crunch over the top of the hot soup.  As the soup disappears from my bowl I like to add more chips to keep the crunch going.

Notes:

tomatillos

tomatillos

The more jalapeno pepper you add the hotter it will be. I have tried canned tomatillos and they are not really a good substitute.  You can get them fresh (found near the fresh tomatoes) in many stores including Giant and Bottom Dollar.  They are used in Hispanic and Mexican cooking and add a lot of flavor and tartness to the soup. hominy

Hominy is a corn product; whole kernels soaked in lye to swell and soften.  The kernels have a mild corn flavor plus they soak up other flavors quickly and add a certain texture and body to the stew.

The wild turkey is native to North America and another turkey species is originally from Mexico.  So turkey is a natural component in this stew.  The Aztecs revered corn and liked to cook it with meat.  Tomatillos are native to Mexico, related to cape gooseberries.  They are used in salsa verde and other Mexican dishes. So this compilation of turkey, corn, tomatillos and lime is a natural combination that will be easy to make and fun to eat. Go on, be adventurous and enjoy a steaming hot bowl of delicious posole and use up that turkey in a totally different way!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins…Oh so Cinnamony!

I had no portable baked snacks and a bowl of apples so I figured it was time for apple muffins. This is another great recipe out of Annalise Robert’s cookbook; Gluten-Free Baking Classics.  It is very similar to her banana nut muffins. If I had to have just one GF cookbook hers would be the one for me.

gluten free    I use so many of her recipes and her quick breads are outstanding! The apple cinnamon muffins did not disappoint: light, crunchy outside with a great cinnamon apple flavor.  I put some golden raisins in my muffins but if you are not a fan; leave them out.  They are my addition to this easy to make recipe.  I also used half mexican cinnamon; a touch spicier than  regular cinnamon but very good in these muffins.  I ran out of cinnamon and was happy to have a close alternative to flavor these treats.

Do use a baking apple; not red delicious which are solely an eating apple and don’t use a extra firm one like the tasty Granny Smith; they won’t get soft enough during the rapid baking of these tasty little treats.  I got a half peck of mixed baking apples from Bechdolt’s Orchard a week ago and have used them in several recipes– not an apple yet that wasn’t fantastic in flavor and texture.

apples

I enjoyed 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 apple 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.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins              2024-11-05 apple muffins 009

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 c granulated sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 c chopped apple; peel and core the apple!

½ c chopped walnuts

¼ cup golden raisins (optional)

2 large eggs beaten

½ c milk, 1 or 2 percent

½ c canola oil

Heat oven to 375, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 12-16 muffins.

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

Add apple, raisins and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix

Combine milk and oil, remove 1 tbsp of combined liquid and ditch it.  Beat in eggs.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir until blended.

2024-11-05 apple muffins 004

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 cinnamon sugar.

2024-11-05 apple muffins 006      Bake 20-24 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Remove immediately from the pans and cool on a rack.   2024-11-05 apple muffins 008

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

Chocolate Egg Cream, Frothy, Flavorful and Super Easy

Sometimes I want something chocolaty but I don’t want a brownie, chocolate pudding or ice cream or even a chocolate bar.  I am simply thirsty.  Those are the times I reach for my Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup.  Lickety split I can make an old school drink that is low sugar, low fat and thirst quenching; the venerable chocolate egg cream.  Funny thing is, there is no egg in it and often no cream.  I sometimes do use half and half but you can make this with any sort of milk you like, even one or two percent.  I do discourage the use of skim or non fat milk, at least a little richness is required.

The chocolate egg cream is allegedly from Brooklyn, NYC.  The New York Egg Cream is a variation of the milkshake popular back from the 1880’s which had an egg beaten in it.  The version I have replicated became popular  many decades ago, partially because it was cheaper for soda fountains to make because it had no egg.  I am not a big fan of raw eggs in my drinks so I am happy indeed that this “modern” version is sans egg.  I have been making it for many years, one of my sisters taught me how.

This is such a simple recipe; get a tall glass, squirt about 1-2 tsp. of real Hershey syrup on the bottom, no substitute will do.

hersheyI never measure; just enough to cover the bottom.  Then pour in ½ inch depth of some sort of milk, your choice of richness.  Stir them together well with an ice tea spoon. choc drink

Add 3-6 ice cubes and fill the glass with well chilled seltzer water. Stir it again. I favor flavored seltzer, the raspberry or cranberry are particularly good for this drink as they add quite a bit of flavor and complexity to this simple little thirst quencher!  A fresh bottle makes the foamiest egg cream so I recommend you splurge and start with a new bottle for your drink preparation.

choco egg cream

Be sure to use a tall glass, it just won’t taste the same in a stubby little one!

So, next time you are longing for a refreshing low sugar soft drink but one with a subtle touch of chocolate, make a chocolate egg cream and smile because it is delicious, has no added sugar and if you use one percent milk it is pretty darn low fat.  Light, refreshing, the egg cream is a wonderful “throw back” drink you can enjoy any day of the week!

PS: I hear U-bets Chocolate Syrup from NY is the bomb in a chocolate egg cream. I have to get some 🙂

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