Category Archives: gluten free

Practically Perfect (in every way) Pumpkin Muffins

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… you all know the song… Well, these muffins definitely just topped my list of a few of my favorite things! They are so tender and moist and… well, perfect… they are “practically perfect in every way”, just like Mary Poppins. (Hey, Julie Andrews – WHY  do these muffins keep reminding me of you?! Well, I’m can’t answer that! But I will name these muffins in your honor!)

You know, I really love how soft and delicate things baked with spelt flour turn out!  My sister & my niece were coming over to visit so it was the perfect reason for baking something… And since my sister steers clear of gluten (with the exception of spelt, which has a very low gluten content) it was the perfect reason to experiment! 🙂

*Please Note: I tagged this recipe as gluten-free, though spelt does contain a small amount of gluten. If you are 100% gluten intolerant, I would replace the spelt flour with a 100% gluten-free baking mix.

I had an idea these muffins would be pretty phenomenal since I got a few ideas from vegan baking goddess Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Post Punk Kitchen website (www.theppk.com)…  I really liked her idea of using of coconut milk in her pumpkin bread for a nice moist bread so I decided to use that instead of soymilk. I also used spelt flour and added a little coconut in and on top of my muffins as well.  My conclusion can be stated in 3 letters… OMG!

Practically Perfect (in every way) Pumpkin Muffins

dry ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1 cup sugar (I prefer fine raw sugar, not white)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • extra coconut for sprinkling over the top

wet ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin (canned is fine)
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk – (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1  1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1) Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well!

before baking

just out of the oven

cooling off

Distribute evenly between 12 greased muffin tins** and sprinkle coconut over the tops. Bake at 400 F for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The coconut on top should be done browning nicely at that same time 🙂 Cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan and then carefully remove the muffins.

** FYI: filling a muffin/cupcake tin over 2/3 full will cause your “muffin top” to spread and flatten out. These muffins are very delicate and you should know that the tops are prone to wanting to lift off if they aren’t cooled enough before removing from the pan or if the tops are too heavy… You can make the muffins a tad bit smaller (13 or 14) to help keep this from happening if you wish.

Variations (If you dare mess with perfection): You can substitute almond or soy milk for the coconut milk if desired.  I think that lite coconut milk would also work just fine if you wanted a lower fat muffin.  Sometimes I replace half the oil with applesauce when baking, though I have never tried that with this recipe. The coconut can be omitted all together as well if you aren’t into coconut. You may also use regular unbleached flour if you prefer over spelt.

I would imagine that you could easily substitute pureed sweet potato for the pumpkin in this recipe… maybe you could even pop a vegan marshmallow down there in the middle! Mmmm! Sweet Potato Casserole Muffins! Sounds good to me! 🙂

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Traditional Tomato Sauce

Do you ever just wonder where the time went? That has honestly been the question I have been asking myself pretty regularly for the last 4 years (or should I just say since my daughter was born!) Despite my delay of posting a blog (sorry about that, by the way), I have been cooking up a storm over here… including all of my favorite oldies, as well as trying some new things.

As you can see, we have our fill (and then some) of tomatoes over here!

Our garden is absolutely exploding with tomatoes!   The last time I told you about my garden, we had a serious abundance of cucumbers… Well, i didn’t really know too many ways to eat them all!  We were literally picking off about 8 cucumbers a day on average for a while there!  We ended up eating a lot on salads… snacking on tortillas filled with diced cucumber/tofutti cream cheese (which is even better with a little salsa, says my 2 1/2 year old)… and we juiced the rest that we got to before they went too rubbery.  I really found that apple/cucumber juice (give or take a carrot or two) is really delicious! As is watermelon/cucumber/apple juice.  I meant to pickle some of our cucumbers, but I wanted to invest in a good canning set-up instead of using the quick-jar method using a pickling pack. I also had a recipe for a cold cucumber soup that I wanted to try (that also contained coconut milk, which I LOOOVE), but honestly, I’m just not really a fan of cold soup and I didn’t ever get around to making it… But alas, now it seems that our cucumber plants are dying.  Next year I may just keep it at 2-3 plants.  6 plants just produced too many cucumbers for us to consume at once!

So… tomato sauce!! This is my basic pasta sauce recipe. It’s easy, its quick, it freezes beautifully and its a GREAT way to use up extra veggies and (of coarse) tomatoes.  If you have fresh herbs, feel free to substitute them for the dry (if doing so, use a little more than the dry amounts). And feel free to add extra tomatoes, spices or veggies of your choice!

I find that making tomato sauce is a bit of an art… You can follow a recipe, but I find its best just to taste it occasionally and add what you think it needs more of 🙂 That being said, this is a great recipe to eat as is… but sometimes it changes slightly depending on what veggies are sitting in our fridge. Sometimes I even stir in a pack or two of faux beef crumbles if we’re in the mood for a “meaty” sauce.

Your Vegan Neighbor’s Traditional Tomato Sauce

1) Saute together everything but the tomatoes (and sugar) until the onion is tender.

2) Mix in the tomatoes and sugar. Simmer 15-30 minutes, to let the flavors blend, stirring occasionally.

Veggies:

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 8-10 mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 green or red pepper, chopped (or use 1/2 cup of each!)

Spices:

  • 2 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 tsp each dry basil, thyme
  • generous 1/2 tsp pepper
  • pinch fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • generous 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil

Tomatoes:

  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (or4 cups fresh, pureed)
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato paste (or two 6 oz cans)
  • 5-8 fresh tomatoes, diced (the bigger the better)
  • 1 or 2 tsp sugar, as needed, to balance the acidity

okay, so this picture is a little boring, but here is my humble plate of noodles topped with tomato sauce

my husbands plate looking much fancier topped with homemade sauce, nutritional yeast and fresh basil… leaves me wondering “why didn’t I do that?!”

This is roughly the amount of sauce the recipe makes. The big one went into the freezer, and the small one served 4 plates with leftovers!

If you missed my faux meatball recipe, check it out here!  I plan on experimenting with another meatball recipe soon!

Fruit Crisp

Summertime… and the livin’ is easy.. at least that is what they say, right?! Well, having a garden or yard that’s producing fresh vegetables & fruit sure make living seem easier!  There is nothing quite like being able to go out to the garden and get some fresh vegetables when they are needed!

Something that always makes me think of summer is fruit.  Fresh fruit… grilled fruit… fruit cobblers… apple, peach, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb pies… mmmm I just love anything to do with fruit! There is absolutely nothing like being able to pick fresh fruit right off the tree or bush and eat it.  We currently have 2 peach trees, a fig tree and 3 blueberry bushes.  We had a small pear tree last year but it got some weird disease and we had to pull it up.

If you are a mommy, this recipe is one that the kids will definitely have fun helping with. They can pour in the fruit and help crumble the topping over the top, which practically makes it for you!

This is such an easy and delicious recipe it is one that everyone should have on-hand because anyone can make it, and like I said, it’s easy and delicious!  I decided to try using spelt flour this time (usually I use unbleached flour) and it turned out beautifully!   It’s good to know this quick dessert is tasty using spelt flour for those times when you need to whip up something quick for an unexpected gluten-free guest**(see note).  As long as you have some frozen fruit in the freezer (which we always do, since we are big smoothie makers over here) you should be able to throw this in the oven by the time it preheats.

** NOTE: Spelt flour is practically wheat free, which makes it a good substitute for people with a low intolerance for wheat, though some people with serious wheat allergies, such as those with celiac disease, are also allergic to spelt. In that case, you should try replacing the flour with a 100% gluten-free baking mix (most grocery stores carry a blend for general flour replacing). Please check if you are making these for someone who is gluten-free.

~Fruit Crisp~

  • 3/4 cup flour (unbleached all-purpose or spelt flour, both work well)
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 4 cups frozen fruit (fresh fruit should also work fine)
  • 1 stick vegan butter (I like EarthBalance soy margarine)

If using fresh fruit, wash and cut any fruit you like and sprinkle it with lemon juice.  Frozen fruit works great (no need for lemon juice) and that is usually what I use. Some good combinations I like are peach/blueberry or apple/pear.

1) Preheat oven to 375 F.

2) Combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Using a knife, cut 1 stick ( = 1/2 cup) of cold soy margarine into bits and add it to the flour mixture, crumbling with fingers or fork until thoroughly mixed.

3) Pour the fruit into a square 8×8″ baking dish and sprinkle the topping over the top.  Bake for about an hour, when crisp will be bubbling hot and golden.  Let cool about 5-1o minutes. Enjoy hot or cold! (Try this with ice cream for a real treat!)

We grew these peaches in our backyard!

Crumble the topping on over the fruit…

After baking, let it cool at least 5 minutes!

Enjoy hot or cold!

Probably Not Yo’ Mama’s Biscuits (aka Spelt Flour Biscuits)

I have, over time, become… hmmm, I’m not sure if “happy” would be the right word… let’s say more welcome of my sister’s inability to have wheat (sorry Beckster!) because it has taught me to cook with spelt flour.  I really love the slightly nutty flavor of spelt flour.  Using a non-wheat flour** also gives you the privilege of not having to worry about over-mixing something since there isn’t any gluten to toughen it up.

* Spelt flour is practically wheat free, which makes it a good subsitute for people with a low intolerance for wheat, though some people with serious wheat allergies, such as those with celiac disease, are also allergic to spelt. In that case, you should try replacing the flour with a 100% gluten free baking mix (most grocery stores carry a blend for general flour replacing). Please check if you are making these for someone who is gluten-free.

Also, these biscuits are a snap to make. Seriously, I can’t believe they were in and out of the oven so quickly!  Now, I LOVE my buttermilk biscuits, but these are a close second! These are great with jelly & butter, but they can also be used as a “sandwich” for your favorite breakfast fixings… eaten with gravy… etc.

 

Probably Not Yo’ Mama’s Biscuits (aka Spelt Biscuits)

  • 2  1/3 cup spelt flour
  • 2  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp raw sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy margarine (I use Earth Balance)
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (or soy milk)

1- Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, whisk the spelt flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

2- Add the margarine to the flour mixture and smash it up with a fork or pastry cutter until it is all mixed in and crumbly like.

3- Make a well in the center of your flour and pour in the almond milk.  I suggest mixing by continuously folding & turning it over and over with a rubber spatula until there are no clumps of flour.

4- Transfer the dough to a spelt-flour dusted surface and gently press or roll the dough out until it’s about 1″ thick.  Cut out as many biscuits as possible, and do the same until all remaining dough has been used.  (I made 9… since spelt flour is a tad more fragile/crumbly, I think 9 is the perfect number… any more and they may end up too thin to cut in half.) Place on center of baking sheet with sides of biscuits just touching.

5- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until tops and/or bottoms are golden brown.  You can stick one with a knife to test it if you so desire.

I think the slight dusting of flour gives these a rustic look.  If you don’t agree, just dust it off!

Right from the oven and smelling GOOD!

Biscuits and coffee… I’ll take this breakfast ANY day!

 

Spelt Scones

I’ve been doing a good bit of baking lately.  My sister (who is GF) recently had her first baby, so I have made her these scones a multitude of different ways… with raspberries, strawberry-walnut, and banana-walnut.    These scones are very versatile and I have found that practically any fruit works wonderfully!  I really enjoyed them when I used 1 cup of bananas and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips 🙂  I can truly say I dont think anyone would know that these are gluten free*.  And the best part about using non-gluten flour is that you dont really have to worry about overmixing!  These scones are lightly sweetened with agave nectar & are so light it is almost as if they fell right out of the sky. I love them!

* Spelt flour is a good subsitute for people with a low intolerance for wheat, though some people with serious wheat allergies, such as those with celiac disease, are also allergic to spelt. In that case, you should try replacing the flour with a 100% gluten free baking mix (most grocery stores carry a blend for general flour replacing).

Spelt Scones

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar (i use the amber kind)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 heaping measuring cup of fresh or frozen fruit of choice
  • > 1/2 chopped nuts (optional)

1- Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk the spelt flour, baking powder and salt.

2- In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, measure the oil, agave nectar and vanilla and whisk together until fully combined.  Add to the dry mixture.  Stir in the hot water, then gently fold in the fruit and nuts, if using. (If I recall , the first time I made these I questioned the appearance of the batter… too mushy? not enough?… but I’m telling you, they will turn out beautiful.)

3- Sccop the batter (I like to use my 1/3 cup) onto the baking sheet.  If you make them smaller you can actually make 12.  However, I found I prefer the size of the scones when I make 7-8 (making each one < 1/3 cup). You may lightly brush the tops with oil, if desired.

Bake for 17-20 minutes until golden.   Once they begin to turn golden, I usually peek under a scone to check how dark the bottom is to decide when to pull them out! Let cool slightly and then devour!

Ahh.. a satisfyingly simple strawberry gluten free scone!

 

Agave Glazed Carrots, 2 ways

Personally, I am always looking for new exciting ways to eat veggies… And I am always looking for new and exciting ways to get my kids to eat their veggies!  I am a bone fide veggie lover, but I was not always thus!  In fact, I remember frowning at many a plate of veggies as a child (a.k.a. pretty much all of them).  My turning vegan (or even vegetarian) probably dumbfounded my parents!

Tonight I am tackling ways to eat carrots.  Lets see.. my kids are fond of carrot juice, pot roasted carrots (basically seasoned with olive oil, tamari and sage), plain carrots with hummus, carrot cake (obviously), and… well, that may sum it up.  I guess I should be happy that they eat carrots at all, but it never hurts to keep trying new ways… for everything, all the time 🙂

Carrots are pretty abundant at the farmers market right now.  I love to use fresh local carrots, or organic store-bought.  The deer usually make our garden into their own personal feasting grounds once things start to sprout, so we haven’t planted much yet this year.  In fact, this upcoming weekend I am planning on doing lots of planting and deer proofing our garden.

This first agave-glazed carrot recipe is simple and sweet.  It’s super fast, delicious, and kid approved.

Agave-Glazed Carrots 

  • 1 lb carrots (about 8 medium)
  • 1 Tbsp amber agave nectar
  •  2 Tbsp soy margarine

Put carrots in a pot with just enough water to cover them.  Boil until fork tender.  Drain.  Add margarine & agave to the pot and stir together until glaze forms, then add carrots.  Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon if desired!

(Pssst! These carrots are also really yummy if you use maple syrup instead of agave nectar and add some dill!)

Balsamic-Agave Roasted Carrots

This method took about 45-60 minutes but the end result was delicious. It has a little more of a “grown up” flavor, if you will. My kids didn’t go for these so much. Oh well. You gotta try everything once! 

  • 1 lb carrots (about 8 medium carrots)
  • 1 turnip (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp amber agave nectar
  • olive oil for coating pan, as needed

** For another option, replace the agave nectar with 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and add 1 tsp each fresh chopped rosemary and sage.

Preheat oven to 425.  Peel and uniformly cut carrots and turnip, if using. Whisk together the vinegar and agave.  Oil up your roasting pan and arrange the veggies on a single layer.  Put about 2/3 of your mix on the veggies. Roast for 25 minutes. Pull out of oven, add the remaining agave/vinegar and toss.  Return to oven for another 20 minutes or until tender!

I love roasted vegetables!  If you haven’t already, you should try these maple roasted parsnips! Roasting any kind of root vegetable makes a great side dish for any season! 

 

“Tow’mater” Soup with Grilled Cheese

For a fun night of Cars watching and good eats, check out this weeks Dinner and a Movie… featuring Disneys ‘Cars’ and one of my favorite comfort food combinations, “Mater” Soup with Grilled Cheese!   Enjoy!