Thursday, August 27, 2015

Gluten free Vegan Banana Cake

This banana cake came out so perfect, so memorable, I just have to post this recipe.  And of course, like all wonderful things that happen by chance, I didn't get a good picture of it.  In fact the only pictures I got of it were taken by my daughter.  But I think she did pretty well considering she's only 11 years old.  

Back to this cake, it has the perfect crumb, perfect amount of sweetness, and everyone, non-vegans included, loved this cake.  Here's the recipe:

Gluten Free Dairy Free Banana Cake

3 large bananas mashed (about 1 ½ cups)
The juice of one lemon
2 eggs (or like I’ve used many times-flax eggs, see the post "faux eggs")
½ cup + 2 Tbs. of oil (I use grapeseed)
¼ cup almond milk
½ cup sugar 
½ tsp. Baking soda
1½ tsp. Baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 cups gf flour blend (mine has rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and zanthan gum in that order)
½ cup chopped walnuts
Banana chips and extra walnuts for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8 inch round pans for a two layer cake, or grease a 9x13 pan for a rectangle cake.  Add to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer the mashed banana, lemon juice, vinegar, eggs, oil, sugar, and almond milk.  Mix on medium speed till well incorporated.  Then add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  (You can pre-sift the flour with the baking powder/soda/salt together, but I don’t bother sifting GF flours.) Mix on medium speed till blended well, but don’t overbeat.  Fold in chopped walnuts. Bake till toothpick inserted comes out clean.  (I forgot to time it)

Cream Cheeze Frosting :
One tub of Tofutti cream cheese
½ cup Earth balance margarine
½ tsp. Vanilla
coconut milk coffee creamer
One 32 oz. Bag of powdered sugar

Let the Tofutti cream cheese and margarine sit out and get close to room temperature or until softened.  With beaters, combine the two on medium speed till well combined.  Add vanilla and combine.  Slowly add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat till well combined.  In between intervals of powdered sugar, add 1 to 2 tsp. of coconut milk creamer.  You will use 1-2 Tablespoons of coconut milk creamer depending on the stiffness of the frosting that day.  Making a buttercream is all about technique, and not about exact measurements.  You will not use the entire 32 oz. bag of powdered sugar, more like just over a pound.  But it's better to be safe than sorry.  You can also make your own powdered sugar by blending your favorite sugar in a high speed blender.   When the buttercream holds stiff peaks, you're done!  Frost your cake as desired.  Garnish with banana chips and walnuts if you'd like!  


Monday, March 16, 2015

A neglected blog and a beautiful salad.

Another year has gone by and I'm finally writing something for this neglected blog.  We still have so many allergies, and I'm just absorbed into our fast-paced life with 4 kids.  Our youngest can't handle gluten and dairy.  Something we discovered after he started school this year.  He also developped asthma, which we are controlling with diet and medication.  We're all trying to eat more vegan, and cut out all wheat.  I've been doing this a lot longer than the others, so it's no problem for me.  As far as the whiny 5 year old, well it's a transition.  Let's just say whether he likes it or not, his health is getting better and the inhalers are needed less.  After only being on the diet a few weeks, I have yet to see him gain weight, but it will come.  As a concerned parent, most would agree that watching your child get sicker and sicker is not an easy thing to do.  The instinct to fix it or to help your child kicks in.  And since I have gone through this before with child #1, I know where to start with child #4.  So here we are on a gluten free, dairy free, mostly vegan diet...again.  But I won't let this get to me in a negative way, we'll just work around it.  We all agree that our family feels better when we eat mostly plants, so let's just stick to it already!

Speaking of plant based foods, this salad was incredible.  And speaking of being gluten free, this salad is not.  Sound confusing?  I think so too.  A friend who's a nutritionist and herbalogist (That's what she calls herself, google wants to correct me and call it herbalist.)  recommended kamut for us.  She said it was a low gluten, easy alternative to wheat, and that she thought we could handle it.  I was really skeptical on how we would handle it, but she was right!  I didn't have any problem at all digesting this!  But of course, I did soak the grain for at least 4 hours, and I simmered it in more than enough water which I drained after cooking.  This grain took a while to cook.  It was somewhere between 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours to cook.  I don't know if what I bought was older grain and maybe that would affect the cooking time, or if that is just normal for kamut.  Either way, it was worth it.  This salad was lick the plate delicious.  Of course, if you'd like to substitute brown rice to make it gluten free, be my guest!

Kamut and Kale salad with Mandarins

1 cup whole Kamut kernels
4 cups chopped, de-stemmed kale packed
1/2 cup medium diced red pepper
1/2 cup medium diced red onion
3 mandarins (like Cuties) peeled and segmented
1/4 sliced almonds

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice (or mandarin juice)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. honey or agave or maple syrup
Salt & Pepper to taste

Add all vegetables and mandarins to a bowl.  Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with the salad till well combined.  This is great for workday lunches, a quick light dinner, a snack for midnight munchies, or whatever your heart desires.

Bon App├ętit!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A comforting, snowy evening...

Here in upstate NY the weather is turning frigid outside.  It makes me want to hybernate somewhat, or at least cozy up on the couch with some hot tea and good movies.  Comfort foods are in order, as I'm watching the snow fall out my window.  My mushroom barley soup is perfect for days like this.  I've had friends ask for the recipe before, and I keep forgetting it, till I'm going through the motions of making it.  This time I'm blogging it so I'll always know where it is.  Here's what I did:

Mushroom Barley Soup

1 lb. (2- 8 oz. pkgs.) of baby bella mushrooms sliced
1/2 of a large spanish onion medium diced
2-3 ribs of celery with leaves medium diced
2 carrots peeled, and diced
3 cloves garlic smashed & minced
1/2 cup pearled barley or use brown rice for gluten free 
8 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 t. thyme
1 t. black pepper
1 t. dried parsley
2 t. sea salt
Olive oil

Coat the bottom of your soup pot with 3 T. or so of olive oil and saute the mirepoix for around 5 minutes.  (mirepoix= onions, carrots, celery= aromatics for soup. There's your french word of the day!) Add the garlic and continue to saute for another minute. 

Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for another couple minutes till they wilt and start to soften.  Then add your barley and continue to saute a couple more minutes.

Then add your vegetable broth, water, herbs and spices.  And stir, stir, stir.  Lower the heat to medium low, and let it simmer for 45 minutes, or until the barley is tender.  Check and stir every once in a while during that time.

I served this soup tonight with a simple spinach salad with a homemade raspberry vinaigrette (raspberry infused balsamic reduction, olive oil, salt & pepper),  pomegranate jewels, goat cheese, and walnuts.  And we had a nice Malbec that went well with it as well.  All that just happened to be in the house.  No one wants to drive in weather like this for special ingredients.  But the way it fell together, it was definitely a comforting meal.

Bon Appetit!

Wheat, dairy, soy, peanut, egg, and nut free. Contains gluten, unless you use brown rice instead of barley.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eggplant Casserole or Layered Ratatouille

 When I was a child, my mom would make the best eggplant casserole.  We would get excited when we heard we were having it for dinner.  I remember she layered sliced eggplant, zucchini, green bell peppers, onions, and cauliflower, combined with a can of whole peeled tomatoes that were roughly chopped or smashed with a spoon.  And the best part, it was smothered with mozzarella cheese.  She didn't add too many herbs or spices, I think I remember fresh parsley and lots of garlic.  This casserole was always served over a bed of California, short grain, brown rice.  So as I'm drooling over my memories of this casserole, I couldn't help but think, this sounds a lot like ratatouille, but with cauliflower.  Now I always make my ratatouille with medium diced vegetables, in a pot, on the stove.  I've never ventured into making one of those newer renditions where they are layered, as depicted in the movie, "Ratatouille".  Technically it's a "tian" in French.  But finally, I broke down and made one of those "layered" ratatouilles.  I made this one up, I didn't follow someone's recipe, but I was very happy with the results.  It was very reminiscent of my mother's eggplant casserole.  I think I love it more than my mother's casserole honestly.  So let me tell you what I did. 

First you have to have good marinara sauce.  The sauce that is most similar to my mother's and mine is Giada's marinara sauce.  The only different thing I do is I add roughly 1/2 tsp. dried basil to the recipe.  I make a large amount of marinara, and I freeze it, or use it up in different meals throughout the week.  So make your spaghetti dinner the night before, and reserve some leftover marinara for this recipe.  You'll need at least a couple cups, maybe 3 cups.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
One medium large eggplant sliced thinly, around 1/4 inch thick, and cut the rounds in half.
4 medium zucchini sliced into ovals, also 1/4 inch thick.
2 large bell peppers  (one green, one red, as round or square as possible) I cut the cheeks off the peppers, then cut each cheek into 3-4 large pieces
Half of a medium onion, cut in half again, so you don't have rings.  Separate the layers
Olive oil
Herbs de Provence
Dried garlic or 2 cloves fresh, chopped
Salt & Pepper
Optional:  You can also add sliced cauliflower like my mom does, or 1-2 medium potatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick, or also sliced yellow squash, to add to the color spectrum.
Optional:  shredded mozzarella cheese

In a 9x13 baking dish, add enough marinara to cover the bottom at least 1/2 inch.  Start layering your veggies like they did in the movie "Ratatouille".  You might not be able to repeat all the layers with the onion. What I did was just shove pieces of onion between layers here and there after it was all assembled.  And mine isn't as pretty as the cartoon, because my veggies are odd shapes, but it's rustic and beautiful as it is.  If you have extra veggies lying around, shove as many as you can into the layers, no one can tell they're not in perfect order.  Then sprinkle on around 1 tsp. of course sea salt, a few cracks of fresh ground pepper all around the casserole, then around 1 (or more) tsp. of Herbs de Provence, and 1 tsp. dried, diced garlic, or more if using fresh garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil on top.  Then cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for one hour.

Remove foil and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Return to the oven for another 15 or so minutes to melt the cheese.  You can omit the cheese to keep it vegan.  While this is baking, cook up your favorite brown rice, and add a dollop to the bottom of the bowl when serving.  This makes it so hearty and fulfilling.  Such a simple recipe, and such a simple pleasure. 

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gluten Free Dairy Free Forest Mushroom Soup

I had a friend call me this afternoon asking for my pico de gallo recipe, and we were talking about what to do for dinner.  She was making a butternut or pumpkin squash soup with a pico de gallo garnish on top.  I told her I had all these mushrooms and I wasn't in the mood to make a Chinese stir-fry with them.  She encouraged me to make Forest Mushroom Soup with what I had.  She gave me her recipe, and it was so simple.  Her recipe comes from Williams Sonoma and I adapted it for my needs.  In my opinion you need at least 4 kinds of mushrooms, and make it a combo of dried and fresh.  I used Button, Baby Bella, Shitake, and dried Morel mushrooms.  Soak your dried mushrooms by pouring boiling water over them and letting them steep for 30 minutes.  This is enough to hydrate them and make a rich mushroom broth that you can use in the soup.  Just be sure to line your strainer with several layers of cheese cloth, or use a coffee filter, to filter out any grit left from the mushrooms.  And the recipe called for dry sherry, but I used something in between a dry and a sweet, drinking sherry, and I was very pleased with the results.  This soup left me speechless.  Yah, it was that good. 

Forest Mushroom Soup

2 T. each Earth Balance Margarine and EVOO
3-4 kinds of mushrooms to equal 1 1/2 lbs.  sliced
1 onion small diced
2 cloves garlic minced
Salt & Pepper to your liking (I used 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper)
3 T. flour  (I used 2T. rice flour, 1T. arrowroot)
4 c. vegetable stock -You can use some of that mushroom soaking liquid for this, and you can use a bouillon cube or two if you don't have pre-made stock.  (Example:  I used 1/4 cup dried Morels in 1 cup of boiling water.  Then I put 2 bouillon cubes in 3 cups of hot water to make my veg. broth.  I use Rapunzel brand GF, vegan bouillon cubes This equaled the 4 cups I needed.)
1/2 c. Coconut milk coffee creamer like So Delicious brand, no flavors, just plain
1/4 c. Sherry wine
chopped fresh parsley

In your soup pot, heat the oil & margarine, and add the onion and sautee for 2 minutes.  Then add the garlic and sautee for a minute more.  Add the mushrooms and continue sauteeing for roughly 5 minutes or until cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour in the sherry wine and stir till most of it is absorbed, and alcohol is evaporated out.  Then I sprinkle on the flour & arrowroot.  At this point I stir in the flour with a whisk till mushrooms are nicely coated and flour is mostly cooked (we're making a roux here).  Whisk in the 4 cups of stock or broth.  Stir occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes, to thicken the soup and further cook the mushrooms.  Then I stir in the coconut milk cream till incorporated and turn off the heat.  Adjust seasonings.  You can add the chopped parsley now or add it on top of individual bowls for presentation. 

This soup was euphoric.  Have this with a chunk of baguette, or your favorite gluten free toast, or GF cracker.  And I had a nice glass of oakey Chardonnay to go with it.  I can't even describe how good this was. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lentil, Oat, Walnut Burgers and Bubble & Squeak

It's been chilly and rainy/sleety/snowy here the past couple days which makes me think "Soup weather!" So I made my Lentil Stew yesterday.  The recipe for it is here.  Well today nobody was in the mood for leftovers, so I decided to turn the stew into something else.  And it ended up a veggie burger.  A perfect, classic burger style on whole grain toast with mustard, mayo, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, sliced red onion, and avocado.  They were awesome.  And I know that because my 4 kids didn't complain about them.  And they're usually pretty picky.  They scarfed them down like they were chicken nuggets! (Right now I'm sure you're asking why I feed my kids chicken nuggets! Well I don't...anymore.)  Here's the recipe:

Lentil Oat Walnut Burgers              This makes 8 burgers
2 cups strained lentil stew
2 cups thick, old fashioned style oats cooked thick & flaky, not goopy with too much water (they're available Gluten Free from Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 T. flax seeds
1 T. chia seeds
1T. arrowroot powder
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. Herbs de Provence

When I put the lentil stew in the mixing bowl, I roughly chopped the potatoes, carrots, and other chunky vegetables into smaller chunks.  The pastry cutter works well with this.  Then I add everything else to the bowl and stir well to combine.  I spray my cast iron, double burner grill pan (the flat side) with non-stick olive oil spray and preheat.  This burger mixture will be loose and wet.  It won't be something you can form with your hands.  I use a 2 oz. ice cream type scoop.  It was actually labeled as a muffin batter scoop.  Just make sure it holds 2 oz.  I can plop 6 burgers on my griddle at once, slightly flattening them as I go.  I cook them on med.-high heat for roughly 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  My family loved these with a slice of Muenster melted on top.  I enjoyed mine minus the cheese, but with all the other veggie toppings.  I love experimenting with leftovers!

This reminds me of another veggie type burger I've made for years, Cheesy Bubble and Squeak.  It came from a Vegetarian Encyclopedia that was given to me as a gift.  It's made from mostly leftovers.  Apparently it's from the UK and the name Bubble & Squeak comes from the sound it makes when frying these little patties up.  They will be your children's favorite!  Here's the recipe:

Cheesy Bubble & Squeak                This makes 8 patties
3 cups leftover mashed potatoes, chunky style
8 oz. cooked, chopped cabbage or kale (roughly a cup, add more if you like)
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese (or Daiya shredded cheddar style if you're dairy free like me)
1 egg beaten
nutmeg for grating
Salt & Pepper
Flour for coating (all purpose or rice flour for gluten free)
oil for frying

Mix all of the above in a mixing bowl using a generous grating of nutmeg.  Form into 8 patties, and chill on a cookie sheet for an hour or so.  The firmness makes them easier to fry.  Coat the bottom of your fry pan with your favorite oil, I use EVOO for everything.  While the pan is heating up on med.-high heat, dredge the patties in flour, shaking off all the excess.  Fry on each side for 3 minutes or until golden and crisp.  Serve immediately.  I'd recommend a good salad with this, or sauteed mushrooms, or both!  And maybe a glass of Riesling paired with this lunch, or light dinner. :)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The best Cheezy sauce!

I just made a loaded baked potato stuffed with sauteed veggies for lunch.  I decided to make one of those cheezy sauces made from Nutritonal yeast flakes to top it with.  I've never made it before and thought it was about time I venture out and try it. I was really pleased with the results!  This isn't just great as a potato topper, it's a great sauce for mac & cheese, maybe even a soy Philly cheeze steak!  I'm gonna run with this one.  :)
Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup Nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tbsp. GF flour blend (use what brand you like)
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 cups water or nutmilk of choice for creamier consistency
1 T. Earth Balance margarine
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Whisk the first four ingredients in a small saucepan till combined.  Add the water and turn on the heat to medium.  Continue whisking till very well combined and add the olive oil and margarine.  Stir occasionally till thick.  Stir in mustard and apple cider vinegar and turn off the heat.  Adjust flavors with lemon juice or extra salt to your liking.  Serve immediately.

I'm going to continue experimenting with this one.  I'm seeing a spicy nacho cheeze sauce in the near future for burros, nachos, bean dip, who knows?  I'll post it when I perfect it.  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the crisp November weather with a cup of Oolong tea.