Nothing in my little rambler here in Charlottesville is less than 60 years old. This is why everything that comes out of my ’50s-era gas oven without being either a) totally uncooked, or b) not totally scorched is a gift. So, Universe, I must once again bow to you in thanks.
Gluten free baking has come leaps and bounds from where it was even a couple of years ago. What once would have been a pile of dry, crumbly, flavorless pieces of cardboard can now be just as good (I think, even better) than their glutinous counterparts that cause me and so many others a great deal of (totally awkward and socially crippling) pain.
The one key is to know your flour blend. I’ve been using Namaste Foods ever since my mom got me a 5 pound bag from Costco “just to try out.” It claims cup-for-cup usage, but I honestly don’t believe any blend is truly the perfect substitute…you have to be willing to experiment a bit and totally put the manufacturer’s own recipes to work. I adapted this recipe from a chocolate chip cookie recipe on the Namaste Foods site while planning a dinner party for my husband’s learning group (everyone gets smarter with cookies, right?). I made a few subs (wanted a dairy-free version and used palm sugar to take advantage of its awesome, rich flavor) and voila! They came out beautifully. I got 30 cookies from this recipe (the original claimed 5 dozen…umyeahnoway) and with 7 people…well, you do the math
If you do want to sub out another GF flour blend, while I can’t verify the ratios, Namaste AP blend is just sweet brown rice flour (the majority of the mix), tapioca starch, arrowroot flour, sorghum flour, and xanthan gum. I’d say anything with a similar ingredient mix would work well, so just have a quick check and make sure you aren’t using a bean-flour blend (i.e. Bob’s Red Mill GF AP flour, which I also love to death but is mostly garbanzo).
Gah!! Those are a lot of my favorite things in the same headline.
Sometimes the rigors of moving to a new town, starting a new job, and adjusting to a new life as the devoted and supportive wife of a business student requires a little sweetness. And, I mean, the coming of Fall and all of the accompanying baked goods will only make it better. But let’s talk about my giant cookie.
Did it really need to be one big-ass cookie? Was a skillet entirely necessary? Eh. Take it or leave it, but something about a piping hot chocolate chip cookie, dripping with PB and J, hot from the oven in rustic cookware brought an appropriate level of decadence to my holiday weekend.
*Inspired by this recipe (although I used local grass fed butter…natch)
When you work Saturdays, you need to make sure your morning has a little extra oomph to get you going.
These are kind of the lovechild of my favorite big-ass pancake recipe and my old favorite banana pancakes…super quick to throw together and really, really flavorful and moist. Since the main complaint following a lot of Paleo pancake recipes is the dryness, I’d say this is a huge win.
As I mentioned in my original pancake post…there’s an art to making a good pancake when you’re not using grain-based flours. Make sure to use plenty of butter or coconut oil to fry them in since sticking is the number one destroyer of a good breakfast. Also, and I cannot stress this enough…be patient! They need at least 2-3 minutes over medium heat before they’re flip-able. Wait to see bubbles, and then keep an eye out for the edges to cook a bit. But trust me when I tell you it’s worth the wait!
Yeah, I know. I’m going crazzzzy with all this chia pudding.
But seriously, what was wrong with me? This is the perfect breakfast. Just mix it all up, toss in the fridge. Boom. Nice cool breakfast option for hella hot days all nice and ready after I stumble out of bed.
So this recipe also has sort of a secret ingredient. I use it in pretty much everything. Probably the greatest grocery discovery I ever made.
Apple pie spice is sorta like pumpkin pie spice but much, much lighter. Maybe because apple pie is a much more summery dessert? I’m freaking out over Fresh Market’s blend, though…it’s got a few extra ingredients that others generally don’t, like lemon peel and fenugreek. Baller.
I have been long averse to jumping on the chia pudding bandwagon. Maybe I had a bad experience? I feel like I probably did, since I couldn’t even hear the word “chia” without thinking of gritty, gelatinous goop.
Well, you guys, when you’re moving and your AC goes out (along with power in half the building) because the ampage in your new house simply cannot handle running the washer and dryer at the same time, you start looking for breakfast options that are, you know, cold. Never mind how the heck I ended up with a baggie of chia seeds in the fridge, but there they were, and gosh darn it if this mess didn’t come out spectacularly. I even ate it out of a little mason jar, since apparently that’s what cultured grown-ups do. Does it count if it was my complementary margarita glass from Joe’s Crab Shack?
It’s 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity at this very moment. So naturally I’ve got the oven on full speed ahead with a series of baking projects to keep me from losing my mind. Oh, and naturally those baking projects happen to be pumpkin things because I’m not patient enough to wait for Fall. Naturally.
Side note…we’re moving into the new house Friday! I’m both excited to get everything settled and terrified that I’m going to get crushed with all our stuff as soon as I crack open the Pod…
This recipe is one that a friend gave me last year after the semester had started getting out of hand and all we could think of to make ourselves feel better was to have massive amounts of baked goods within arms reach. It was nothing short of a miracle that I was able to sub Bob’s Red Mill gluten free AP flour in one for one without a kitchen disaster (that seems to happen to me a lot)— my friend liked it even more than the wheat flour version since the garbanzo bean flour in Bob’s mix made for a little bit of a crust on the outside and a super moist interior. I’ve made this at least a dozen times and have made a couple tweaks based on preference and, seriously, y’all, it’s warm, comforting, fragrant perfection.
What with being unemployed and all and not exactly having a place to live until August 1, hubs and I are spending a few weeks with my parents. The older we all get, I’m starting to have more and more respect for how my folks have handled life after the last kid left home 8 years ago. Dad has been 100% retired for most of it and has steadily accumulated projects and community stuff to stay busy whenever he isn’t out on the motorcycle. Motorcycle rallies–the kind with checkpoints and landmarks to find within a 24-72 hour time limit over some region of the country–are pretty much his purpose in life. Mom still works as a nurse but has managed to keep the 3, 12-hour shifts a week for over a decade. I can only hope I’ll be so lucky. She’s been a gardener her whole life but when kids came along and life got busy we didn’t have much besides the flower beds and a few vegetable patches, but the garden beds have multiplied in the last few years to include everything from cucumbers and squashes, corn, beans, herbs, winter veggies, and, to my surprise when I came home last week, collards and kale (“everyone at work was talking about how much they love this stuff called ‘kale’ so I went and got a pack of seeds…). With my dad as a handy helper (he does the garden building and vegetable eating part) and a really commendable renewed devotion to personal health on their part, we can always count on fresh produce at home. So, obviously that brings me to today’s recipe. With the exception of the yogurt, everything here has been freshly grown and that’s pretty darn cool if you ask me.
Since summer is, you know, hot and all, I’ve been doing a *lot* of salads and cold veggies with dinner instead of the typical warm side dishes. Saves time, that’s for sure–one of my husband’s favorite things to toss on a plate next to the main event is a sliced heirloom tomato with salt and a drizzle of melted butter (speaking of which, grilled tomato and butter sandwiches are the bomb and I could probably eat them every day forever).
I got a little…fancy…with last night’s salad, as you can see. The dill was calling my name, I couldn’t resist. I’ve got fantasies of doing this again with some smoked salmon later this week. Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s dying just thinking about it….?
We finally got all our stuff out of the Baltimore house yesterday—one thing I realized I miss from the Army was the fact that whenever you had to move, some moving company would just magically show up and four hours later, all your stuff was gone. Whether it would make it to where you needed to go was another story but considering we aren’t even taking possession of the new place for a month, I’m not thinking that far ahead. Either way. Moving yourself is awful. Righteously awful.
Fun fact…there is a Law of the Unviverse that states that no matter how hard you try, you will never—NEVER—fit all of your household goods inside your POD, despite more trips to Goodwill than I care to count and a pile of trash bags in the back alley I’m pretty sure could shield the place from a nuclear war. So, that was my weekend.
I know baking is probably the last thing anyone wants to do in the middle of the summer, except it’s the first thing I want to do every second of every day of the year so I’m posting this anyway. Y’all know I’ve been on my Vegan kick lately and I recently extended said Vegan kick into the realm of baked goods. I did try to make a Paleo/Vegan bread a while back (I’m still racking my brain for a way to make that happen) but for now I’m settling for this lovely creation.
It’s seriously delicious, not to mention versatile. Dudes, I made French Toast and sandwiches and toast with butter and jam and PBJ andandand they all held up. The pain with GF baked goods of any kind is that they can really be dry and crumbly, and doubly so when you have to eliminate eggs and dairy from the mix. I don’t know what it is about this specific combo of ingredients but it works beautifully. I had to experiment a little—it took me one miserable failure and two not-so-miserable-but-still-imperfect attempts to figure out the magic behind it and here is what I found/the ONE change I made…
When she says mix the ingredients until “just combined,” seriously, yo…do NOT overmix. Mix up all your dry ingredients REALLY well before you add the wet stud and mix by hand slowly and carefully until it comes together. Overmixing will produce a nasty sinkhole.
Only let it rise 30 minutes. I know it says 30-45 but too long and a) it might overflow and/or b) it’ll sink whilst baking.
I added a tablespoon of psyllium husk powder. I swear by this stuff.
Does not freeze well. I unthawed a loaf I had frozen fresh and it turned to sand.
Let the loaf cool either upside down or on its side. I know some folks think this is an Old Wive’s Tale, but it makes me feel better. So there.
I have been doing a lot of Vegan meals lately, haven’t I?
The way I see it, making at least one meal a day is 100% plant-based is a phenomenal way to get an array of veggies and nutrients in my diet. I’ve ranted about it before, but the one thing anyone or any “diet” can agree on is that we could all use more veggies. Over the years, what I would consider to be “My Paleo” has certainly changed–I’m kind’ve over the whole eat-nothing-but-giant-hunks-of-meat-all-day-every-day. Nowadays it’s more like a 25/75 split between animals and plants. I eat my eggs with greens and grilled veggies…my steaks with tons of salad and sweet potatoes…and even have the occasional meal that’s purely plant-based (my mornings lately have begun with fruit, kale, and coconut milk “ice cream” topped with Paleo Krunch). “My Paleo” now is a lot more balanced and I’ve noticed such a huge difference in how I look and feel. This past year I lost 15 pounds and just feel…better.
I really do agree with a lot of the thoughts behind Veganism–namely that processed “foods” are, well, crap, and that we’re missing out on so many of the valuable nutrients in plants. I’m also sympathetic to the moral arguments…I’m not against eating animals, since humans need a lot of nutrients from the muscles and organs of others and have evolved to consume them, but I am against eating factory farmed animals subjected to inhumane conditions both because it’s unhealthy for them and unhealthy animals make unhealthy meat and because, frankly, it’s just cruel.
I’ve slowly become the people from Portlandia who insist that their chickens need to be happy and have little chicken friends to lend a shoulder when they feel sad.
ANYWAY, let’s talk about last night’s dinner. As far as I’m concerned, plantains are always a good idea…I’d think of this as almost a deconstructed mofongo. I added the collards as almost an afterthought and am SO glad I did. They really do add a nice bitterness to balance the sweet of the plantains and coconut oil and make everything just a little more vibrant. As a main dish, it’s perfect over cauli rice but I’d bet that it would be great with a root vegetable mash, big baked potato, or even as a side.
Having gone to college in southern New York, I became absolutely infatuated with the bazillions of Greek diners we frequented any chance we got. Pancakes the size of my face…the ginormous pastry display…gobs of butter on EVERYTHING…
And, of course, the Greek food. I was on a moussaka kick at one point–even made MDA’s primal version–but my favorite has always been the delightfully crispy and cheesy spanakopita. Spabakopita…which also happens to be the most Paleo-unfriendly dishes around thanks to the phyllo (which is the best part, duh!) and cheesy goodness.
Having nothing but time on my hands this summer, I finally cracked it. I’ve been obsessed with Cappello’s pasta for a long time, and even more so now that the ingredient list changed to make them 100% Paleo (no more potato starch). While not exactly the flaky crispity crusty phyllo, the lasagna noodles make a perfectly delicious substitute for the shell. Making this baby dairy-free was no problem at all, especially since I’ve been experimenting so much lately with cheese alternatives.
The result was beyond even my expectations. Even my husband–who rolls his eyes every time I tell him we’re having a meatless meal–went back for seconds!
The cauliflower mixture–before mixed with the spinach and all the rest of the ingredients–stands very well on its own as a topping or base for other recipes. I’d like to say it tastes a little like feta cheese…but faux feta or not, it’s great. I’ll probably post the recipe for just that piece in the next couple days.