Monday, April 27, 2009

Energy Bars (sorta)

So, you might have noticed the change in the blog. I decided it was time for a new look! It's spring, and my blog needed a little spring. My favorite time of year is actually summer. I'm getting so excited for some sun, swimming and outdoor time! Especially hiking and biking and all those things that are so hard to pack gluten/dairy free snacks for...until now!
This recipe is my first attempt (but there will be more) at a gluten and dairy free energy bar. It tastes incredible! didn't really work out as a bar. It ended up being more like a really great "granola." That's okay. I've been eating it with a spoon right out of the container. I tried it on some soy yogurt, and added extra to help the taste of the yogurt...definitely not as good as the real stuff. At least the "granola" was good! I imagine it would be great on some ice cream/substitute. I took a small baggie-full to work, and scarfed it down way too quickly.
Part of the reason I think mine didn't hold form was the preparation method I changed. The original recipe calls for some almond butter. I had none. So I used a little Earth Balance w/ some ground almonds. Yeah, it tasted GREAT...but I don't think it was a very accurate substitution. When I was able to get to the store, I grabbed some peanut butter. I melted some, and mixed it into the finished "granola," hoping I could rectify my mistake. No luck. So, I will try again once I'm out of my first batch. I really liked the flavor of it without the peanut butter. It was very interesting. I might make two batches next time, to see if the almond butter adds a different flavor than the peanut butter.
Anyway, enough from me. Here's the recipe already!

Melissa's Mile High Energy Bars (w/ my variations)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts/pecans
3/4 cup chopped almonds
1 cup quinoa (or, if you can handle them, GF oats)
3/4 cup finely shredded coconut
1/4 cup slightly ground flax seeds
1 cup Erewhon Organic GF Crispy Brown Rice Cereal (I used the twice rice version)
1 cup Erewhon Corn Flakes
1/3 cup raisins
2-3 tbsp Enjoy Life chocolate chips
1/4 cup honey or agave (I used honey since it's thicker, and I was lacking PB, but next time I'll try agave)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup almond/peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with oil. Spread nuts, quinoa, coconut, and flax seeds out on a cookie sheet (I covered mine with foil for easy cleanup). Bake in the heated oven for 3-4 minutes, checking occasionally, that things don't get too dark. Take the pan out, stir everything up, and bake for 3 minutes more. Supposedly everything is to be a golden toasted color, but I didn't notice any change.
Remove from oven and cool. In a large bowl, mix with cereals, raisins and chocolate. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine honey, syrup, nut butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Bring to an easy boil over med-low heat. Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes, until the sauce thickens a bit. You don't want it to be too thick to work with though.
Pour over cereal mixture, and stir well to coat.
Spread cereal into prepared 9x13 pan, and (I used the piece of foil that I had baked the nuts on) press the mixture into the pan. Cover, and cool in the fridge. Cut into bars. Store in the fridge.

I promise to post my second attempt at this recipe soon! Stay tuned :)

Original recipe here.

Really Good Noodles and Chicken

I am so excited about this recipe! It is REALLY good! I don't eat a lot of red meat, or pork, or eggs. Mostly I eat chicken, fish, and turkey. This is great, since it keeps my gut happier. But my taste buds aren't always as excited by this. I easily fall into a rut, where I get bored making the same things over and over again for meals. This happens especially with chicken. I get SO tired of chicken! This recipe is the cure for that! The noodles are good, but the chicken is amazing!!! Even Luke enjoyed it...and he's the dip-everything-in-ranch kind of guy. Granted, he ate his with plain, glutenous noodles and butter. I didn't think he would enjoy venturing this far from the normal, plain foods he enjoys. But seriously, he liked it! That makes it a double winner in my book!

I can't wait until lunch tomorrow so I can enjoy it again. I'm gonna make some more of the chicken next week, and try it on a salad!

Really Good Noodles and Chicken
Gluten/Dairy Free Version

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced as desired (I cut my breasts in half, then in half again)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 tbsp honey
8 ounces spaghetti (I used Tinkyada GF fettuccine)
2 tbsp butter/substitute (I used Earth Balance spread)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup bacon/real bacon bits
1/2 cup cream/milk sub (I used soy milk, and it seemed okay)
3 roma tomatoes, seeds and core removed, diced
Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to directions, then drain and set aside.
Spray BBQ grill rack (or George Foreman Grill!!) with pan spray, and preheat. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp of the lemon juice and the honey together, then add the salt, pepper, and rosemary. Toss in the chicken pieces, and allow to marinate for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cook chicken until no longer pink. Mine got a little burned, but I think that it was from using EVOO to oil the pan. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.
In a large skillet, melt butter, then add garlic. Saute and stir for 2-3 minutes, then add bacon and cook for another minute. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, and cream/substitute. Stir in the noodles. Add a little more milk if sauce is too thick. Stir in tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
Serve immediately with a portion of chicken on top of pasta.

*To be honest, I wasn't completely sold by the pasta. It was good enough, but was just a little weird. May have been the soy milk sauce, the lack of Parmesan cheese, the use of real bacon instead of bacon bits. I also felt it had too much lemon zest. I'm not a huge fan of lemon zest, unless I can't really sense it. I would recommend trying the sauce as close to the original recipe as possible. Or, maybe just serve the chicken on some pasta tossed with EVOO, tomatoes, and wilted spinach. That was what I wished I'd had after eating the pasta. Just my two cents :)

Original recipe here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dairy Free Almond Joy Bars

WARNING! This recipe is very dangerous! Can be addicting!

I found this recipe over at Lauren's blog, healthy indulgences. I was dying for something sweet and chocolate covered. Mine don't look as pretty, but they sure do taste good! Definitely comparable to the real thing! I don't know about the healthy part though, as I changed the ingredients a bit. Probably healthier than an actual Almond Joy bar. But not if you eat four of them in one sitting. My stomach wasn't too happy with me after that. But it was worth it :)

Dairy Free Almond Joy Bars

1 1/2 c finely shredded coconut
5-6 tbsp coconut oil (I used Spectrum palm shortening)
1/3 c milk substitute (Lauren uses coconut milk, but all I had was soy. It worked.)
1/4 c sugar (Lauren uses erythritol, but I didn't have any)
1/8 tsp agave (I was just guessing on this, her recipe calls for 1/16 tsp pure stevia extract, but yet again, I had none)
Raw almonds
About 7 oz Enjoy Life chocolate chips
Pinch of salt

Soften shortening in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Mix together coconut, milk sub, sugar, agave and salt. Add shortening. It should resemble a paste.
Drop dollops onto foil or waxed paper. Work them with your fingers into log shapes, similar to the "fun sized" length candy bars you can buy in the store.
Top with almonds, if desired, and press the almonds into the filling a bit.

Slide foil onto a baking sheet or cutting board (to keep things flat). Freeze for 5-10 minutes.
Microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for 30 seconds more, until chocolate is smooth and melted.
Stick toothpicks into cold filling and use that to dip into the chocolate (I didn't have toothpicks, so I tried using my fingers, which was very messy. The easiest way ended up being just to scoop the chocolate out with a spoon, and smear over the filling. But, I didn't get the underside. I suppose freezing them again, then flipping them over to coat the bottoms might work. Anyway, it seems it would be much easier with a toothpick!!!)
After dipping, return to the foil/wax paper, and remove the toothpick. Wait a couple minutes for the chocolate to harden, then enjoy!
Makes about 20.
These keep best in the fridge. I bet they're good frozen too. I didn't think to try that!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yes, I've been on a roll tonight. It's been awhile since I posted new recipes, and then BAM! Overload. Sorry about that. Been a bit preoccupied.
I worked almost 100 hours this pay period. I've been catching up on several weeks worth of Heroes, House and Dollhouse. I've been emerged in the sixth Harry Potter book, which I'm listening to again. I've been pretending to take care of the house. And I've been trying to figure out what's wrong with what I'm eating these days. I've been busy.
I think I figured it out! The latest culprit in my stomach's attempted murder mystery. ONIONS! I made this huge batch of veggie stock a couple weeks ago, and used it to make several fabulous soup/stew recipes (which I shall post soon).
No matter which of these great recipes I ate, I was very sick! Frustratingly so. So I ate every ingredient I could think of that was common in the recipes, sort of a reverse elimination diet...and came to the conclusion that it is probably the onions. I've never really been a huge onion eater, per se, but I do enjoy the flavor. So, we'll give onion powder a try in a couple weeks, see if that will be an adequate substitute.
But, I've deviated from my original subject. These delectable creations!

They are divine! Again, I must praise Karina! Although, I do rather enjoy her photos of the "jumbo" muffins. I don't have a jumbo muffin pan. I think these are still pretty good, for being regular-sized.
Original recipe here.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes about 1 dozen

3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (I used 2 bananas + about 1/4 c applesauce)
1/4 c light olive oil
1 c light brown sugar (I actually only used 1/2 cup)
2 tsp vanilla extract (make sure it's gluten free!)
1 egg
1/2 c sorghum flour
1 c Featherlight flour mix*
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand are great for those avoiding dairy), or 1/2 c chopped nuts, or 1/2 c dried fruit

Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure there are no big banana chunks (that's really gross if you get a bite of that!). Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to the wet ones. Beat until smooth. Add a couple tbsp of milk/non-milk substitute if needed. Add the chocolate chips/nuts/fruit.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spoon into greased or lined muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Use a toothpick or a butter knife to check (should come out clean).
Cool muffins for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack.
Best served warm. Can be easily reheated in the microwave (and throw in the toaster oven for a minute afterward if you like).

The banana flavor in these was not overwhelming, like you get in banana bread. It may have been the chocolate. Whatever it was, they were moist, flavorful, and delicious!
Next time, I might decrease the chocolate chips to about 1/3 cup, and add some finely chopped pecans (enough to make up the difference to 1/2 cup). Or maybe mix dried cranberries and chocolate chips...mmm! These were good, but not too dessert-ish. I would recommend halving the sugar like I did if you want them for a breakfast. They were on the verge of being too sugary for me. But not quite ;)
Now, if you want a dessert muffin/cupcake, try these. They taste pretty similar.

Amazing Sweet Potato Chips

I love Karina's website! I am always so excited when I see she's posted a new recipe.
This one isn't new, but it's definitely at the top of my faves list right now. I haven't had a potato chip in AGES! I stopped eating them since I noticed a trend of bloating and cramping after eating. I always assumed it was the fat/oil content. Until I figured out it was actually the potatoes themselves (although it may have been the fat/oil as well).
Eating with a sensitive stomach can be challenging, and sometimes frustrating when there are so many "normal" things I can't enjoy anymore. Praise Karina, potato chips are no longer on that list!
Her recipe can be for either regular or sweet potatoes, depending on which you prefer. I really don't think these tasted much different than "regular" potato chips. Although, mine were not quite equally sized. I hate cutting sweet potatoes. I can never get the thickness even, and so I ended up with a lot of half rounds, as well as many thick and thin chips. Not enough to stop me though! I might try slicing the potatoes with my food processor next time. And believe me, there WILL be a next time!

Sweet Potato Chips

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced very thin
Light olive oil, as needed
Sea salt, as needed

Heat about an inch of oil in a large, deep skillet. When the temperature is very hot (I used a candy thermometer to try and get it to about 350 degrees F, which was almost exactly medium heat setting) place just enough chips to fill the pan without crowding them. Fry until golden crisp. This was hard for me to determine when they were done. A lot of mine were overcooked, and a lot ended up still soft in the middle (due to my horrendous sweet-potato-cutting skills). Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels. Lightly salt them while they're still hot.
Repeat with the next batch until all the chips are cooked.
Add more oil as needed, but you don't need to drench them in the oil.

This makes about 2 servings (or 1 if you're really excited to eat these and get carried away).

I noticed these went soft really fast. They were great and crunchy when still hot, but once they'd cooled, and I'd eaten my fill, I threw them in a ziploc. By the end of the day, they'd sogged up a bit, and even toasting them in my toaster oven didn't crisp them up enough.
So maybe they're a same-day snack. Well worth the time and energy :)

Gluten Free Pita Bread

Here's another recipe from Kate's blog, gluten-free gobsmacked. This one is good. It wasn't what I was expecting though. I was really craving an authentic, almost sourdough pita bread. This is more like a thick pancake. It works well for tucking a sandwich into, but just tasted like bread to me.
I stuffed mine with peanut butter, mashed up sweet potato, tuna and melted soy cheese, spaghetti sauce w/ turkey meatballs, and turkey, lettuce, tomato w/ a little mayo and mustard (my favorite!). I also just toasted a couple and ate 'em plain. Yum!

Gluten Free Pita Bread
Makes 8 -10 pitas, depending on size (mine made 10, but next time I'd try to make them a bit bigger)

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups Featherlight flour mix*
2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp gelatin
3 tbsp almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
2 eggs
1/4 hot water
2 tbsp melted butter/butter sub (I used Earth Balance)

Proof yeast with agave and warm water. Let set for about 5 minutes.
Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Heat remaining 1/4 cup of water. Stir in butter. Add hot water/butter, eggs and yeast mixture to dry ingredients. Blend until dough/batter forms. Dough will be a bit sticky.
Preheat oven to 500F. Prepare baking sheets by covering them with a parchment paper (I was out of parchment paper, so I just used foil, and sprayed it with Pam). Grease hands (pour a little oil into a measuring cup, then drizzle into your hands. You will have to do this a few times). Break off a piece of dough about the size of a large egg, and shape it into a ball. I recommend making all the balls first, then flattening them. That way you know how much of the dough to use. When you flatten them, they should be the size of a medium pancake. Lay the shaped pitas on the pan. These don't rise, which I learned after using 4 baking sheets to make this recipe, so you can cram them onto your pans.
Cover with dish towels, and let pitas rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 500F. Once the pitas have risen, bake for 5-6 minutes. They will brown a bit, but shouldn't burn. Although my oven didn't like being that hot, and started smelling a bit smoky.
Transfer the pitas to a cookie rack, and allow to cool. You want to cut the pita in half, then slice an opening into each to make a pocket. Can be reheated in the microwave or in a toaster oven.

*Featherlight flour mix:
2 cups rice flour
2 cups tapioca flour
2 cups cornstarch
2 tbsp potato flour (not potato starch flour)
I make mine without the potato flour, since I don't eat potatoes.

Gluten Free Pepita-Powered Bread

Recipe by Kate, over at GF Gobsmacked.
I've been meaning to try this recipe for awhile now. I've read lots of rave reviews from people who have tried it. I'll admit, I liked it, but didn't LOVE it. I might have to play around with the ingredients a bit more.
It did have a very "whole-grainy" feel to it, and it smelled very good. The texture was great. The bottom of the loaf stuck to my pan, and so it doesn't look very pretty. I liked it best toasted w/ some sort of sandwich topping (made an open-faced club sandwich, and a tuna sandwich w/ pickles). I'd give it a 4 out of 5 though. A very filling, hearty bread, a bit sweet-tasting. And quite pretty too! Best enjoyed when watching your husband play you yet another "really good" song from the latest Guitar Hero game :)

Gluten Free Pepita-powered Bread
Makes one loaf

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup flax seed meal
3/4 cup millet flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup tapioca flour (I used cornstarch as I was out of tapioca)
1 1/2 cups water, divided
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
2 eggs
2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp melted butter or butter sub (I used Earth Balance). I also halved the amount of butter and used half applesauce to reduce the fat.
Extra handful of pumpkin seeds to sprinkle on top

Warm 1/2 cup of the water to proof your yeast. Add agave and yeast. Stir. Set aside to proof for 10 minutes.
Process pumpkin seeds in food processor until evenly ground. Add flaxseed meal, millet flour, tapioca flour and quinoa flakes. Process until quinoa flakes have been mostly ground down.
Pour flour mixture into mixer. Pour proofed yeast over the top. Add the eggs, xanthan gum, brown sugar, and melted butter. Pour in 1/2 cup of the reserved water.
Mix together on low until the batter is even. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Mix again on low well mixed. Beat on high for 5 more minutes.
Prepare bread pan by spritzing the bottom and sides/corners with olive oil (by the way, this is what I did, and why my bread stuck to it...)
Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth out with wet hands. Sprinkle remaining pumpkin seeds over the top of the loaf.
Place pan in a warm place and let rise about 20-30 minutes (until batter rises to the top of the pan).
Preheat oven to 350F. Bake bread for 30-45 minutes. Check bread after 15 minutes. If the top is getting too brown, cover loosely with a piece of foil). My bread took an hour to bake. Just keep checking it.
Remove from the oven and let sit in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool for at least half an hour on a wire rack.
Enjoy :)