Monday, December 14, 2009

Chicken Salad and Cheesy Biscuits

Whew! All that social-ness can be exhausting.

Ok, really it was fun, but time for some updates.

1. Chicken and Grape Salad
It was a big hit at the work potluck. I actually had a coworker insist that I email her the recipe. My first thought was "Is it weird to just give you the link to my blog?" and my second thought was "Which version of the recipe do you actually want?" because of course, I modified.

This comes from my "Life Tastes Good Again" cookbook, but here it is with my modifications.
3 cups cooked chicken cut in cubes
2 1/2 cups grapes cut in half
2 cups celery
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tbs curry powder
3 tbs mango salsa (or more to taste. I found myself really wanting a little kick, so I kept adding more. I used Mrs. Renfro's Mango Habanero Salsa.)
1/4 tsp salt
slivered almonds

In a large bowl, toss together the chicken, grapes, and celery.
In a smaller bowl, mix the sour cream, milk, curry powder salsa, and salt. Pour this over the chicken mix and stir until coated.
At this point the salad can be stored in the fridge.

The day after I decided to eat the leftovers for lunch, and I filled my bowl with spinach and tossed a serving of the chicken salad on top. It was fabulous and I decided what would make it absolutely perfect is some slivered almonds sprinkled on top, so I did that too. I've added spinach and slivered almonds as serving suggestions. Modify as you wish!

2. Cheesy Garlic Biscuits
Last night I had a group of women over for dinner. My original plan, as I mentioned in my last post, was Butternut Squash Chili and cornbread. First lesson - acorn squash is WAY harder to peel than butternut squash. Second lesson - other people won't eat squash. (Yeah, I know, they probably say I am a super picky eater. Plus I'm weird).

I had planned on cornbread, but then I saw this post on Sunday morning: Garlic Cheese Biscuits at Gluten-Free Easily. I actually had all the ingredients and Kim told me they sounded way better than cornbread, so I followed her advice and made them.

The recipe made two dozen. They were completely gone. The crumbs too. (And that is why there are no pictures).

I did get to eat a few, and these are just like the Chebe brand cheese bread mix. And they are good.

A few modifications:
1. I used Bob's Red Mill All-purpose Gluten Free flour. I was worried it would be too heavy, but it wasn't.
2. I froze the butter and grated it. Super easy.
3. I just put the garlic into the batter.
4. I used a "heaping" cup of cheese.

Menu Plan
I am leaving on Thursday to go home for Christmas (so excited!) So the entire menu plan for the week is to clean out the fridge. I still have leftovers of the rice and peas risotto and I have some veggies and an acorn squash that need to be finished up. Fortunately I was able to just freeze the leftover chili, so it will last for a good long time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan

This weekend was my first foray into making my own stock. Good news: it made the house smell good. Bad news: when I tasted it, it burnt my tongue and tasted like water. It will obviously take some work to get the seasonings proportioned right.

Menu plan
Rice and Peas Risotto (already made and taken to an "event")
Apple Cinnamon Raisin Muffins
Sweet Potato Enchiladas (lunch with a friend tomorrow)
Chicken and Grape Salad (potluck for work on Friday)
Butternut Squash Chili (made with acorn squash - dinner with friends on Sunday) with Cornbread

The new recipe is the Chicken and Grape Salad. For that potluck I need something that can be served cold, because it is too much trouble to heat things at work.

And also, take a look at that social calendar.... Makes me feel popular.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

If something tastes good, and you ask what's in it, the answer is always butter.

Julie & Julia

I saw Julie and Julia this weekend. I loved it! It is super cute.

And, of course, it made me want to cook. And eat. So I actually came home and tried to poach an egg. I probably did it wrong, because my feeling was, what's the point? Why not just boil it?

But I started thinking about all the exotic things I could learn to make, so I started reading my Enciclopedia della cucina Italiana.

I think I have gone off the deep end.

I'm reading a cookbook in Italian. And falling asleep thinking, hm... could I make those gnocchi with sorghum flour? Or would it have to be a blend? How much is 50 g of burro (butter)? And what is a teglia?

Monday, November 23, 2009


Rain Makes Applesauce was one of my favorite books when I was little. I remember that one and Drummer Hoff.

But the truth is, I make applesauce when it is raining.

Two years ago, during my first year in Boone, two friends and I spent a Saturday making applesauce. We went to the little farmer's market and bought a bushel of apples. The farmers brought these just for applesauce making, because they were the more bruised and ugly looking apples. The entire bushel was $5, so we couldn't pass it up.

We put in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and got to work peeling and chopping apples. We boiled them. The first batched we boiled in water, a little lemon juice, and cinnamon. The second batch we boiled in cranberry juice -- which produced pink applesauce.

Becky had a food mill, so once they were soft, we just tossed them in there and ground away.

I put my portion in gallon freezer bags, and was dumb enough to let the bag slide through the slats on the freezer rack while it was freezing. Yes, it caused a mess later when I wanted to eat the applesauce.

I had an applesauce party for one last week. 6 lbs of apples for $3 at the farmer's market. I turned on Hulu, and peeled, cored, and chopped up my apples. Then I boiled them in water and a tablespoon of lemon juice. I don't have a food mill, so I pureed the soft apples in my blender.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Veggie Stew

My dad claims, in his blustery way, that cooking is easy, "You just slosh it through the pan and put it on the table. Cleaning up is the hard part."

To me, soups are the epitome of "sloshing it through the pan." You can put basically anything in soup, and when it is done, you will have a lovely, steaming hot bowl of goodness.

And so I make soups. I have told you before about soup, because it was what I was eating during the summer. Which really didn't seem weird at the time. But I realize that soup is even better when it is chilly out.

I pulled this recipe from (I think), but because soups are best when you just throw in whatever you like, I modified it. This is a good basis though, just to get started.

Vegetable Stew
1 eggplant, cubed
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch each of basil, parsley, rosemary

Saute eggplant in extra virgin olive oil. Add the minced garlic. Stir in all other ingredients (except last 3 spices), simmer for 45 min. Remove from heat and add basil, parsley, and rosemary.

This time, I added black beans, left out the green bell pepper, used a can of diced tomatoes, and a little chicken broth, and used my spicy hot chiles (just a little) in place of the red pepper flakes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tefflecakes at the Farmers' Market

No recipe today, just a fun note. Now I'm just imagining my students rolling their eyes at me. I mean that I want to tell you about something that was fun for me.

Last Saturday was such a gorgeous day that I decided to go to the farmers' market. It's November, so I was just planning on buying some apples. I was very surprised (and happy) when I saw the long tables filled with all sorts of goodies. I came home with 2 varieties of squash, 4 enormous eggplants, and 2 huge bags full of spinach and lettuce.

The bonus was that, as I was perusing the stalls, I found a baker. Her stall is called "Be-Free." I stopped to read her sign, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free. She started chatting with me and telling me all about her products. It is always cool to meet a fellow gf-er, but even cooler to see what she was doing with it.

She has made her own flour blend that she called "miracle flour," and she used the same blend for all the different things she made.

After talking to her for 20 minutes, I felt obligated to buy something. So I chose a bag of her "miracle flour" and went on my way. The flour is mostly teff, which is a variety that I have read and heard about, but never actually used.

I made pancakes - called tefflecakes on the label (and managed to do it almost according to the directions) - and they are very delicious. There was not too much lift, which is good because I don't like super thick pancakes, but they were light. Teff is a dark flour, so as you can see, they are very dark. And all those little holes mean air bubbles, which mean these are light and fluffy.

I think I will put teff on my list.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Melanzana Parmigiana

Every year at about this time, I get the urge to make lasagna. I don't know if it's the turn to colder weather, or the approaching holidays, or just my time in Italy, but fall is lasagna time. Because I lived in Italy, I make really good lasagna. The problem is my really good lasagna takes actual time, at least 2 hours, so I only make it when I am going to share it with people.

Which doesn't cure my hankering for lasagna.

But last week I went to the farmers market and bought some really beautiful eggplant. I used one in soup, but was pondering what to do with the other three. And then it hit me: melanzana parmigiana, or eggplant parmesan. If you are not familiar with this, it is lasagna with sliced eggplant in place of the noodles. Perfect for us gluten-free folks. (But if you go and order eggplant parmesan at an Italian restaurant the eggplant will be breaded. Be careful!)

For this simple, quick, weeknight meal, I also omitted the white sauce that I would normally make for lasagna. Because my eggplants were a different variety (I think they are japanese), I cut them round and baked them in my muffin tin. The other option is to cut the eggplant lengthwise, so the slices approximate lasagna noodles.

Melanzana Parmigiana
1 big eggplant, sliced
tomato sauce (This time I blended it so it was smooth)
cheese (I used an "Italian" cheese blend)

To prep the eggplant, peel the skin and slice it. Place all the slices in a colander and cover with a generous amount of salt, about 2 tbs. Allow the eggplant to sit and "sweat". (Ooh, like those mafia movies). I put the eggplant to sweat while I made the tomato sauce, so for at least 15 minutes. Then rinse the eggplant off thoroughly.

In the muffin tin, put 1/2 tsp of sauce at the bottom of each muffin well. Layer one slice of eggplant, then 1 tsp of sauce and a dash of cheese. Continue until the wells are full. Top the last slice with sauce and cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 min. Your knife should easily pierce the eggplant, and the sauce should have evaporated some, and the cheese should be golden-brown.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin

Round two of Pumpkin Muffin testing went much better. I have to give a shout out to Karina of Karina's Kitchen who has a wonderful post on substitutions. Her suggestions on sugar substitutions that gave me the ideas for these adjustments.

As I mentioned, I wanted some Thanksgiving-y (-ish?) treats, so my plan on Wednesday was to bake muffins and pumpkin pie. Yes, both gluten and sugar-free. Oh, and I didn't want to use agave nectar or honey. I guess I just need an adventure in my life.

I reasoned that since muffins can be dense, they would be sweetened very easily with raisins. The pumpkin pie, on the other hand, needed something lighter, so I used a banana. Both were delicious right out of the oven.

UPDATE: I shared them with a friend today, we both thought the pumpkin muffins were delish after we heated them up again (typical of gluten-free food). They really were quite good. And... we both agreed that the pumpkin pie needs another round of experimenting. The crustless-ness was a success, but ... the pie just wasn't that great. It was better warm and then we drizzled agave nectar over the top, and that made it pretty good. But still needs some more experimenting. Looks good though, right?

For the pumpkin pie, my recipe came from Shirley at Gluten-Free Easily. It is a Crustless Pumpkin Pie. What an ingenious invention, and super simple, all you have to do is add 1/4 cup flour to the pumpkin filling. I managed to follow Shirley's recipe exactly, except I replaced the sugar with 1 mashed small ripe banana. Now that I have looked back at Karina's sugar substitutions post, I could have pureed the banana to get rid of even the smallest clumps. A word of caution, you do want to use the ripest banana possible. Just peel your black bananas and toss them in the freezer and you'll always have some on hand.

I'll cover costs before giving you my own recipe. Canned pumpkin was on sale for 79 cents, I used two cans for these two dishes. Evaporated milk was $1.19, Allspice was $1.19, and Nutmeg was $1.19. Everything else I had sitting around. Total $5.51.

Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from a community cookbook

1 2/3 cup GF flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup almond milk
1/3 cup raisins, blended fine

Mix dry ingredients.
Put the raisins and a splash of water in the blender. The water will help keep the raisins from being so sticky, and make them easier to scrape out. Blend them as finely as possible. Add all contents of blender into the wet mixture bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin, butter, and milk.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until moist and incorporated.
If the batter is too dry, add more almond milk.

Baked at 350 in greased muffin tins for 20 minutes.
Makes approximately 15 muffins.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Rice and Peas Risotto

I decided to change the name of my blog. When I first went gluten-free (more than 3 years ago), my mom joked that I was gluten-free plus. Back then, and still now, my "sensitive little system" couldn't handle mayonnaise or chocolate. There's no gluten-related reason for that, I just couldn't do it. And I still can't. In addition to these things I can't eat, I am trying not to eat sugar. Life is just better without it, so that's the second plus.

Today I have a recipe for you. I thought that I got this straight out of a cookbook. Silly me for thinking that I actually followed a recipe. Apparently what I did was look at the ingredient list and then make up my own technique.
I made this on a regular basis in grad school, because the ingredients are things I always had around.

Again here, I just had the ingredients on hand, so I don't have prices (in my mind pantry meals are free). But I can tell you that arborio (risotto) rice is more expensive than brown rice, I think around $3 for a pound. Pay for it. Other types of rice do not act the same way. Also, I am paying about $2.29 for a box of chicken stock, so that I get one that is gluten-free, sugar-free, and yeast-free. (Yes, maybe I will start making my own).

Rice and Peas Risotto

Inspired by "Risi e Bisi" in The Little Italian Cookbook

1 cup arborio (risotto) rice

2 cups chicken stock
3 tbs butter
1/2 onion, chopped

2 cups frozen peas

handful parsley, chopped (large handful if using fresh parsley, 1 tbs if dried)

parmesan cheese

In a pot, melt 2 tbs of butter. Toss in the chopped onion, and saute until translucent.
Add the rice, stirring until the rice is coated by the butter and begins to turn more opaque. This should take 1-2 minutes.
During this time, heat the stock (I use a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave). It doesn't have to be boiling, just hot.

Add 1/3 of the stock to the pot. This should be enough to cover the rice. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add another 1/3, repeating the same process.
While the rice is cooking, add the frozen peas to the final 1/3 of stock, and microwave until warm. Add the stock and peas to the rice, and simmer while stirring occasionally.
When stock is almost absorbed, melt in the parsley and last tablespoon of butter. The consistency should be creamy, and the rice should be cooked. Eat a grain of rice to make sure. If it is still hard, add more stock.

You may choose to salt and pepper, I find it doesn't really need salt and pepper, but to your taste. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chili, Dahl, Squash, and baking

Happy Halloween!

The Food Report:
I spent most of the week eating the butternut squash chili. It was really good, and I even froze a few jars.

On Wednesday, I ran around like a crazy person and in my "down time," I chopped up the last of my cabbage (yes, from almost 2 weeks ago) for saurkraut. It's almost done chillin' on the counter. Total cost of 3 jars of saurkraut = $2.42

Then I made some hummus. This is the fourth or fifth batch of hummus I have made (yeah, I lost count), and I still have 1/2 of the $6.00 jar of tahini. So I have determined that it is cheaper to make your own.

I cooked my green-striped spaghetti squash. I showed you the outside here, and now here it is cooked and scraped out and ready for some tomato sauce.

Cost of the squash = 75 cents, cost of sauce (I actually just bought a jar this time) = $1.29. Total cost of approximately 3 meals = $2.18.

And I cooked lentil dahl. Another food blogger recorded the conversation she had with her husband about this meal. "Hi honey, I'm making dahl for dinner." "We're eating DOLLS?!" And I thought, that sounds a lot like my dad. But I looked at the ingredients and thought, well, I have almost all of that. Easy.

I took it in to work for lunch yesterday, and had almost the exact same conversation with a coworker...

One pound bag of lentils = 79 cents. Jar of Tumeric = $1.19. Total cost of a HUGE pot of dahl = $2.12.

I had 3 baby red potatoes languishing in my pantry. So I baked them up and served the dahl over top.

Yes, I know. Now you are thinking you know what my dad would say about the appearance of that meal too. It's actually quite tasty though, I split it up into 3 portions, and have frozen the rest.

In addition to the three dinner meals, I experimented with some baking this week.

I suppose I have to be honest. I am scared of the holidays. I have been trying to control my sugar problem, and have been doing really well on my own. For some proof, I'll tell you about last weekend.

I went on a short road trip with a friend. We decided to eat lunch/dinner at Chili's, because it was close. So we went in, and like all the other restaurants, they are having a 2 for $20 deal. She asked if I wanted to bother with that, and I said sure, but the dessert is entirely yours. She picked her dessert and kept asking, "Are you sure? Are you sure you don't want some ice cream?" And I kept saying, "No, I don't want any." The surprising thing was that it was actually true. I didn't want any. They brought her dessert out, and again she pestered me, "Are you sure you don't want any?" And I really didn't.

It was a proud moment for me, because I want to take care of myself and feel good. But it was also a reminder of how difficult it is to take care of myself so that I can feel good when other people pester me.

And I got nervous about Thanksgiving.

I was reading some food blogs and saw a recipe for pumpkin cookies. My thought was that if I can bring treats where ever I go, then people will leave me alone, and I never have to tell them that the treats are gluten and sugar free. The cookies sounded good, and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry, so I made them on Sunday.

What a disaster. They don't look like it, do they? But they tasted pretty awful.

But it was kind of fascinating because then I was watching Good Eats with Alton Brown, and he was making cookies. He explained why cookie recipes always say, "cream the butter and sugar." It's because the sugar crystals poke holes in the butter, expanding its volume, and making its melting point more stable. The cookies I attempted were a disaster because I didn't have any sugar to poke holes and change the butter.

No more cookies.

So I moved right on to muffins. Yes, again.

These are pumpkin muffins. I have another tweak I want to try with the recipe. So check back for that. Just to keep you hanging...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pancakes and Pictures

I walked into my office on Friday and saw this on my desk

I thought, wow that is so pretty. And then I ate one. And cried.

But that got me thinking. Food is pretty. I should share pictures with you. On Top Chef they are always saying that you eat first with your eyes, so come eat with me.

I made Chickpea Couscous with Quinoa. I figured some of you might not have ever seen Quinoa, so here it is.

And here is the final dish.

I tried the Larabars again. These ones have prunes, dried apricots, raisins, walnuts, and almonds. I baked these ones. Not the best idea. They burned really quickly.

I went to the farmer's market. Everything looked lovely. This is a spaghetti squash. I've never actually seen one with green stripes like this.

And here it is with the butternut squash for my chili.

I made saurkraut again. Here it is, hanging out on my counter and doing its thing.

And Sunday is pancake day.

Don't they look delicious?

Now that you have agreed with me, I'll tell you that these are gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free, and milk-free.

Banana Pancakes
1 cup gluten-free pancake mix
1 tbs canola oil
1 tbs honey
1 tbs peanut butter
1 cup almond milk
1 banana, smashed

Mix everything together. Make sure the batter is thin and runny like pancake batter. If you need to add more milk or water, do it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sweet Potatoes and Menu Plans

And thus we see...

I just like saying that. It's so much better than here's the point.

So thus we see why menu plans are so difficult for me. Oh, I guess the "and thus we see" should come after the explanation. Ok, here's the explanation.

On Oct. 7, I wrote about my menu plan for the week. My plans are bigger than my belly (which honestly baffles me, and should baffle anyone who has seen the way I eat). So during that week, I only managed to eat the Soup, the Stuffed Green Pepper, the Green Goddess Rice, and the Green Tomato Pasta Toss.

Much to my chagrin and shame and irritation (yeah, chagrin just doesn't say it all) the salad went bad. I did get one bowl out of it, but then it was gross.

The rest of that week's meal plan was extended into this week. I already posted the spaghetti squash and related recipes.

I like some savory with my sweet potatoes, so I don't go the brown sugar route. Here is my recipe.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Rub olive oil and salt onto the sweet potato. Bake the sweet potatoes at 350 until they are soft when you stick a fork in them. Gently pull the skin off and dump the potatoes in a bowl. Mash them with a fork. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil, a 1/2 tsp of curry powder, and a 1/2 tsp of chipotle powder. Stir.

And thus we see why menu planning doesn't work. I spend 2 weeks eating one plan, and now I am completely out of all my staples - like rice.

Menu Plan for week of 10/17
Rice and Peas Risotto
Chickpea Couscous
Butternut Squash Chili

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tomato Sauces and Squashes

I was driving down the road, and saw a beautiful 100 year old tree that has turned a spectacular yellow.

I drove a little further, and there was a brilliant red one.

And then I realized, if I go to the farmer's market this weekend (hopefully), I will see all apples and pumpkins. Gone are the peaches and the watermelon. Bring on the squash and some really good apples.

I could embrace fall. Slightly cooler, pretty colors, good food.

Except that somehow, we have skipped right from summer to winter.

Last week, we had the first frost. Fortunately I rescued my green tomatoes just the evening before, and cooked them up into the Green Tomato Pasta Toss that I mentioned last week.
It was tasty, but I made two little modifications, and after eating it, would make one other. So here is the new and improved recipe.

Green Tomato Pasta Toss 2
Green tomatoes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Cheese (I actually used Asiago, although I'm sure the Feta in this original recipe would be delicious)

Saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the diced green tomatoes and continue to saute until they become soft. Some browning may occur, I think that makes it taste better. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the basil and cook until wilted.

Pour over cooked pasta and sprinkle on the cheese.

Obviously the unfortunate thing about this recipe is that I won't get to modify it and see how it really tastes with the basil added until I have a batch of green tomatoes next year. Hopefully next year it won't be as large of a batch.

Despite the fact that I do not like how cold it has turned so quickly (we are sitting at 43 degrees right now. And honestly I think it is about that in my office as well...), I cooked the spaghetti squash as an appropriate fall meal.

Preparing Spaghetti Squash
Pick a good one. The size will determine how many servings you get.
Cut it in half lengthwise (meaning, start at the stem and move down to the blossom end).
Scoop out all the seeds and gunk.
Place seed-side down in a 9x13 pan.
Fill the pan with an inch of water and bake at 350 for 45 min to 1 hour.

When the flesh of the squash is soft, scoop it out of the rind with a fork. This will separate the spaghetti squash's natural strands, giving you "spaghetti."
Serve hot with tomato sauce. Or pesto, or any other kind of sauce you like.

Homemade Tomato Sauce
It seems like this should be a recipe that I keep a secret forever. But I'll share anyway. I lived in Italy, and while I was there, I learned to make a really good tomato sauce. There are variations to this, and so I'll tell you some of them.

Olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
Salt and Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and add the minced garlic and diced onion. Saute until the onion turns translucent.
Add the chopped carrots and celery. Cook until they begin to soften, but try not to brown them.
Add the can of diced tomatoes and the can of tomato sauce. Add a little water too.
Stir and bring to a boil.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the chopped basil.
Stir and lower to a simmer.
Add the chopped zucchini and mushrooms.
Simmer and allow to reduce slightly. Taste and adjust spices.
Serve over pasta, spaghetti squash, rice, whatever.

You can omit all of the vegetables (carrots, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms).
You can add ground meat - beef or turkey. Just brown in the pan with the garlic and onion. When it is brown on the outside, add the sauce, because it will continue to cook.
If you prefer a smooth sauce, you can puree the sauce either in a blender, or with one of those cool "boat-motor" tools (that's what Emeril calls them).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Muffins and menu plans

I've been slack. I have been eating, pretty good food too, and I haven't been sharing.

Here's the "menu plan" I've been working with this week. I do actually use those quotation marks to show sarcasm. I think I have commented before that I don't like planning. So this is just a vague representation of some of the things I might eat this week. And if I don't feel like it, I don't have to.

Soup - leftover homemade soup from my sick week last week
Stuffed Green Pepper - frozen leftover
Green Goddess Rice
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Spaghetti Squash, with homemade tomato sauce
Green Tomato Pasta Toss

Plus a few extra snacks
Lemon Muffins
Apple Cinnamon Raisin Muffins

I made the Green Goddess Rice on Monday. It was pretty tasty, however it is really bad as leftovers. The avocado turns brown, and it is really not as nicely flavorful. But I can recommend the recipe if you are going to have a party and eat it all that night. Or ... not a party... but you just happen to actually feed a family.

The lemon muffin recipe is simply a modified Orange Juice muffins recipe. I added lemon juice and lemon zest.

Apple Cinnamon Raisin Muffins
2 cups featherlight gluten free flour mix
1 tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup veggie oil
1 egg
1 cup grated apple
1 cup raisins, lightly chopped
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix everything, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

I made my muffins this week in my mini-muffin tin. That means I baked them for 13 minutes, and they are my fav because the bottom part of the muffin gets a little crispy, and it's just delightful. Unfortunately they are only like that right when you take them out of the oven. So I had to eat a lot straight out of the oven.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I forgot! I was going to tell you about the great Larabar experiment.

One of the things that is nice to be able to eat once in a while (like on road trips, or after yoga class) is a bar. Obviously Nutrigrain bars are out. So I've tried a number of different bars in the last several years - SoyJoy, Cliff, Luna, Kind, etc.

My favorites are Larabars. Two downsides to the Larabar: 1. they have crazy flavor names like Key Lime Pie. Well, frankly, if you have a craving for Key Lime Pie, this will do absolutely nothing for you. But it has a pleasant hint of lime. 2. They are ridiculously expensive, rolling in at $1.59 for a single bar.

I started to do some research. Often it is cheaper to buy things in bulk (like not by the single bar). But none of the stores around here sell Larabars by the pack. So I looked online. Amazon (and all the other retailers) sell cases, which are 16 bars, ranging in price from $21 - $28. Which still makes an individual bar cost between $1.24-1.60.

I decided to make my own. Part of the beauty of the Larabar is the very small list of ingredients. For example: Dates, Cashews, Lime, Raisins.


I took out my blender (ok, I started with the food processor, but let me assure you that the blender was the better tool for the job). I put in 1/4 cup of mixed nuts that I got at Target last week for my road trip, and added 1/2 cup of raisins. Then I blended. To get a more Larabar look, I then added more raisins, probably winding up with 3/4 cup of raisins. Then I patted the mixture into bar shapes.

Next time I will buy dates and try this again. I think dates probably have a more subtle flavor than raisins.

From eating the Larabars I didn't think they were baked, but mine are really sticky and mushy. Even after sitting out to dry overnight. So I think I may try them in a low oven for a little while next time.

Total cost: Nothing. I made this from stuff I had in my pantry. How satisfying.

Tortilla Wrap

Last week was a really good food week. I made a big pot of my good soup, which carried me through most of the week, I ate a lot of salad, and for a new recipe, I tried a sandwich wrap.

Tortilla Sandwich Wrap
Gluten-free flour tortilla (they were on sale in the freezer section of my natural food store)
cilantro pesto
lettuce and other greens (mustard greens - try them raw)
um... maybe some other vegetables that I had on hand.
salt, pepper, and olive oil

I laid the tortilla on a cookie sheet, and heated the oven to 350. Then I piled on the toppings pizza-style. After about 15 minutes (when the edges of the tortilla were crunchy), I pulled it out, cut it in half and flipped the halves closed.

In addition to the good food I made, I went to a restaurant with friends. I was very impressed because they had labels on the items that were gluten-free, and when I told them I am gluten-free, they immediately made all the proper arrangements to avoid cross-contamination. It was nice to be taken care of.

Then I got bummed because I went out of town this weekend (road trip!) and couldn't find anywhere to eat. When I asked if menu items contained flour, the servers looked at me like I had 3 heads. When I peremptorily explained that I have food allergies to gluten, which is wheat and flour, they ignored my requests, and brought me fried food smothered in gravy.

And I think the biggest problem is I don't know how to remedy that. Maybe I should research restaurants in the areas I will be traveling to see their menus. Maybe I should buy a 5 day cooler like my mom has and just pack all my own food. The problem with that was even with a way to keep the food cool, I would have to plan all things that require no cooking at all. Unless I also want to look up local parks to see if they have a barbeque pit and carry my own charcoal. Suggestions?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kitchen Experiments

I opened up this screen to tell you about my kitchen experiments this week. I actually have not been cooking a lot -- seriously, that curried rice and stir fry made a TON of food. I still have a whole gladware full of rice. I also had a lot of veggies that needed to be eaten, so I've been focused.

I am sitting here looking at the screen, though, and hearing a line from Kiera Knightly's version of Pride and Prejudice in my head: "Don't you judge me, Lizzy. Don't you dare judge me."

And the reason for that is my kitchen experiments have been truly bizarre, and .... So, don't judge me, it was really just an experiment.

Experiment #1: Making saurkraut
I know, why would you want to? But I saw this video a while ago, and thought "Wow, that's weird." And then, after making the curried stir fry, I still had more than a half a head of cabbage leftover. Now, the total cost of the cabbage was $0.33. So realistically, I could have just thrown it away and considered the money well spent. But no, I'm opposed to throwing food away.

So I decided to make saurkraut. Carraway seeds are what is used in rye bread, so as soon as I opened those up I was like, hmm, smells like pumpernickel, no, not pumpernickel, rye!

And actually (now that I have waited the requisite 3 days for said experiment to ferment on my kitchen counter), it is better than any saurkraut I have ever tasted in my life. So maybe that was worth the 1/2 of $0.33.

Experiment #2: Making Muesli
In Italy, I used to eat muesli for breakfast. It was sold at the grocery stores in a bag like cereal or granola. I have been thinking about something else that I could do for breakfast, because the yogurt doesn't last through my morning classes. Ok, I know, I eat all the time, but yogurt isn't lasting through my first morning class.

Side story: One of my students was saying she has poison ivy, so the doctors put her on a high powered steroid. And I said, "Oh, my gosh! I am so sorry! I was on that ALL summer. Are you sleeping at all? Because I didn't sleep for a month." Another student said, "Did it make you hungry?" And I kind of thought, and then, "Hm... I don't know. I eat all the time anyway." And she said, "Well, I know you like to eat. But it can make you really hungry." And I thought, "Oh boy..."

I could probably find a store that sells muesli, but not gluten-free. So I saw this recipe for muesli. I spent way too much on the gluten-free oatmeal (gotta love Bob's Red Mill though. Thoughtful company), so I omitted the buckwheat (which despite the name is gluten free).

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pesto, Peppers, and Stir Fry

Good food weekend. I kept thinking I'd treat myself to dinner out, but then I kept realizing that I have a ton of food in the fridge. So I enjoyed it.

Meal #1: Cilantro Pesto over Rice
Bunch of cilantro
Lime juice
1 green onion
Olive oil
A dash of salt
A dash of ground ginger

I pulsed everything in the food processor and then put it over rice.

Meal #2: Stuffed green peppers
I got 4 green peppers on the cheap, so I decided to stuff them.

1 cup of rice (or so)
1/2 can of black beans
2 chipotle peppers (canned)
2-3 tbs adobo sauce (the sauce the chipotles are canned in)
1 diced tomato
3 tbs chopped onions
lime juice

I realized afterward that I could have added corn as well.

I just mixed everything together, until it looked like the blend I wanted, then cored the green peppers, stuffed them, covered with a sprinkle of cheese and baked at 350 for 20 minutes.

Since I had so many peppers, I froze some of them (before I cooked them).

Meal #3: Curried Apple Chicken Stir Fry
I'm editing to add a note about this stir fry. First, it has curry in it, so I expected it to be spicy, and was kind of disappointed that it is sweet. So next time I will add more curry paste, and I'm adjusting the leftovers with salt, pepper, cumin, and probably chili powder too.

Also, next time I will make either the stir fry, or the rice, not both. I don't need a fancy dressed-up rice when I am covering it with stir fry.

Everything has tasted really good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Enchiladas and Muffins

Planned meal number one for the week was enchiladas. I wanted something not chicken - yeah, I don't know why. So I looked around at some of the food blogs, and found this recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas.

The only change I made was using cornstarch instead of arrowroot starch (because it's what I had). Oh, and I'll make an ingredient note, I was able to find 8 oz cans of chopped, roasted green chiles at Walmart for $0.96, be sure you look around. The first cans I found were 4 oz and $2+.

Also, the recipe says this will make 8, I was able to make 10 and fit them in my 9x13 pan. Then I had a rectangular gladware container full of the sweet potatoes and beans. This means I can make more. Yay.

I thought these were delicious, and they got super rave reviews from my friend as well. Even to the point of eating 3. (Corn tortillas are smaller, so I'm not in any way implying anything).

And of course, I made muffins again. This time, I made Apple Cinnamon Muffins. I'm not going to bother with posting the recipe, because frankly, they didn't turn out that good. I think that the problem is I made them without sugar, and cinnamon just doesn't taste right without sugar. I think we always eat them paired together - sprinkled on Snickerdoodles or Banana cookies, for example. So it just tastes weird and flat to have cinnamon without sugar.

Any suggestions to fix that problem?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Food Processor

Last night was a food processor night.

First I used it to make fresh pesto. A friend at work brought in a huge bag of basil from her garden. It looks way better than mine, so she shared a bit with me.

Fill the bowl of the food processor with fresh basil leaves.
Add a handful or two of grated Parmesan cheese.
Add a 1/4 teaspoon of garlic.
Add a teaspoon of salt.
Start pulsing the food processor. Drizzle in olive oil.
You need enough olive oil to make it a liquid-ish/saucy consistency.

I served the pesto over pasta, then added a few pieces of chopped tomato from my garden and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Secondly I used the food processor to make hummus. I found this recipe. At first I was doubtful about actually making hummus cheaper than buying it, because the tahini costs about $6 per jar. But I decided to try it.

Following the recipe exactly made enough hummus to fill one of my rectangular gladware containers really really full. That is at least twice as much hummus as I get when I buy it at the grocery store for $3.69 per container. So I decided it is cheaper to make it. And it tastes good.

But the next time I make it, I will do a half batch, because it was a little overwhelming for my little food processor.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A failed recipe

I mentioned in my last post that I was trying 3 recipes this week. Last night was time for #3.

Honestly, so much less than stellar, I'm not even going to post a recipe, or a link to the blog I got it from. The blog has a chance to redeem itself with something else good, but this wasn't it.

It was a pasta salad, and the sauce/dressing was made with tahini sauce. Tahini is a major ingredient in hummus, and I was reading several recipes and recommendations to make your own hummus instead of buying it.

Unfortunately, I think I expected the pasta salad to taste like hummus, and it didn't.

On to better things I hope.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why don't you explain it to me. You've got five seconds.

One of the things that money-saving food-blog people advocate is menu planning. And I just have to say, wow, that so doesn't work for me. Maybe because it's too much like... planning. I hate planning.

(A couple of friends have come over in the past couple of days, and they come in and say, wow, Emily, you are so organized. My response, What? Why in the world would you say that? "Because you have a huge calendar on your fridge." My response, ....)

Menu planning isn't working. So instead, this week I decided to pick 3 recipes and go buy the ingredients that I didn't have for them. Then I could make them whenever I felt like it.

Recipe #1: Heather's Salsa Pasta Chicken

See comments under
August 17, "I would do the NY Times crossword every Sunday"

Recipe #2: Mediterranean Couscous

I have found a new favorite show on the Food Network. It's called "
5 Ingredient Fix" and just like it sounds, the whole premise is that the host makes dishes with just 5 ingredients.

At first, I was skeptical. I have seen 5 ingredient cookbooks before, and they always have Campbell's Cream of ___ Soup as an ingredient. Yeah, I'd just as soon put rat poison in my food. (Because that stuff is full of flour, and basically it is poison to me).

But Claire (the host of 5 ingredient fix) actually uses real whole food as her 5 ingredients. So cool.

This week I tried the
Mediterranean Couscous, except with some major modifications. Here is the recipe for Super Med Quinoa:

1 cup quinoa (keen-wah) - $3.99

2 cups vegetable stock

3 scallions (green onions), chopped - $.99
12 dried apricots, chopped - $1.99

1/2 can olives, chopped - $.99

salt and pepper to taste

Quinoa is a grain revered by the Incans. They called it the "Mother grain" because it's a superfood. It is tiny granules, much like couscous, but it contains essential amino acids, protein, and fiber. It's gaining popularity among foodies, and is great because you cook it just like rice, and can use it in much of the same type of dishes. Also, it's good hot or cold, so it's good for summer-time salads and anything else.

A word of caution, quinoa is full of fiber. So if you aren't used to eating a lot of fiber, don't try to eat this for four meals in a row. It would lead to some unpleasant side effects.

Ok, on to the cooking directions.
Bring the vegetable stock to a boil, and dump in the quinoa. Stir gently and allow to return to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer until all the water is absorbed.
Chop the scallions, apricots and olives.

When the quinoa is finished, transfer to a bowl, and dump in the chopped "veggies."

Salt and pepper to taste.

Fluff with a fork to serve.

You can serve this warm or at room temperature. I actually thought it was good chilled too.

I got four meals out of this. Total cost = $ 7.96. And I could have had leftovers to do a second if I hadn't snacked on the remaining olives and apricots... But the next time I make it I won't have to buy the quinoa again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I brought you flours.

So my big food project for the week was to combine up a new flour blend. I made Bette Hagman's "Featherlight" flour mix. It is:
1 cup rice flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup tapioca flour
1 tbs. potato flour

Of course, I can't follow directions, so I decided that I would alternate a cup of white rice flour with a cup of brown rice flour.

I paid a total of $13.47 for the different flours. I made 9 cups of flour, and only stopped because I ran out of cornstarch. So I still have almost all of the brown rice flour and potato flour, and half the bag of the tapioca flour.

I am figuring I can make at least 4 things with the 9 cups of flour. So it's still pretty expensive, at $1.50 per cup, which would make most things (since I use 2 cups of flour mix for a batch of pancakes and muffins) about $3 for just the flour. But of course that is ignoring the fact that I will be able to make more flour as soon as I get more cornstarch - happily enough the cheapest part of the mix.

In other news, I'm currently eating the recipe Heather suggested, the Salsa Pasta recipe. Yum-o. And can I say a huge thanks, because all of those ingredients are actually things that I usually have in my fridge.

I have no recipes to suggest from this past week. It was a raw-veggie-heavy week. I bought fresh mozzarella and made Insalata Caprese. It was delicious. Then I ate corn on the cob. Then I made a half a cup of quinoa and put it in a lettuce free salad.

I said no recipes, but for those of you not in the know, I will explain the Insalata Caprese.
1 ball of fresh mozzarella - no, you cannot buy the block of what they call mozzarella and have this taste good. splurge.
tomatoes - real ones that you just picked from your garden, or a friend's garden, or the farmer's market
fresh basil
olive oil
salt and pepper

Dice the tomatoes and mozzarella and put in a bowl. Rough chop the basil, a good handful, and add to the bowl. Pour a drizzle of olive oil over everything and a little salt and pepper. Toss everything well, and enjoy.

Seriously, if you use good ingredients, it's the best thing ever.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk

And now for yet another muffin recipe.

I used up all of my flour blends. I should probably be bothered, but this means that now I get to try some of the other flour blends I have been reading about and see what I like best. I'm hoping it's a fun experiment.

But in the meantime, I went out of town yesterday and needed snacks. I am aware that I am the weird one, I take food with me everywhere I go. But I went out of town with 3 friends, and not a single one of them brought food with them. We met at their house, so I am perfectly aware that they had a whole box of Luna bars sitting on the coffee table. But nobody brought a single snack. And while I know I am weird, I just think that is really weird.

I went to make muffins to take on said trip, but only had rice flour. I know you can't just use that because it is too gritty. So here is the new recipe.

Rice flour blueberry muffins
1 egg
1/2 cup water (or other liquid, like milk)
2 tbs canola oil
1 tbs agave nectar or honey
1/4 cup + 1 tbs sour cream
1 1/2 cup white rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix liquid ingredients together, then add dry ingredients. As always texture should be runny-ish. I just threw in a couple handfuls of blueberries, until it looked like there were a bunch.

I used my mini muffin tin to bake these in. They are great as little bites, and made 24 muffins.

Bake at 425 for 17 min.

Monday, August 10, 2009

It all depends on what she cooks like.

Last week my parents and littlest sister came to visit me, and I tried to do good dinners for them. Of course, I realized at the end of their stay, that most people would consider me a terrible host for not taking them out for Kansas City Barbeque.

But that's not really my thing.

And they were happy enough that I fed them ice cream.

They all particularly enjoyed a recipe that I got from a friend. She said her husband rated it a 9 out of 10, and it is gluten free. I made no major alterations to this one - the only substitution was I used gluten free soy sauce. Honestly, I probably would have just omitted that, but I bought gluten free soy sauce for another recipe like 6 months ago. And I still have the whole bottle.

The recipe is called Apricot Chicken with Cashews and is from the Taste of Home magazine/website.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I go to check on my little brother and what do I find? A zucchini!

I did enjoy leftovers all week. And I have been sitting here wondering if the $38 was worth it, given how long I ate the leftovers. So here's a rough calculation. I made the first meal on Friday, so one meal, and then had about 2 meals per day from either of the two dishes from Saturday to Saturday. So that means I ate a total of 15 meals from the two dishes. 38/15=2.53. So that means I spent about $2.53 on each meal that I ate this week. Huh. Feeling pretty good about myself right about now.

I did buy some fruit this week. Cherries were on sale for $1.47/lb. And I bought a 5 lb box of blueberries for $6. Amazing price. And they taste so good.

I know, I thought it too, five pounds is totally ridiculous. But I froze about 3 lbs, or 3.5 lbs. So they will be fantastic for muffins and smoothies for a really long time. Yay.

And a week is not complete or satisfying without at least one cooking battle to share.

A coworker brought the abundance from her garden to work on Thursday. All zucchini and cucumbers. So of course I grabbed some. And decided to make zucchini bread.

It was an absolute disaster.

And of course I want to say, "I even followed the recipe!" But I actually didn't. I guess part of what I am discovering here is that I am really bad at following directions. Really, really bad.

So I followed the recipe (except I omitted the sugar) up until it said mix dry ingredients with wet until combined. Well, that produced yuckiness. Half of the bowl was still dry ingredients while the other half was a barely combined attempt at dough. So naturally I just started adding water. I know what kind of consistency I am going for here, so I just kept adding water (and some almond milk, you know, for a more creamy consistency) until it looked like the right consistency.

Then I baked a batch. I prefer muffins to bread loaves, so I just scooped it out into my muffin tins. They came out, and immediately fell, and are these super dense half-size muffins. Weird.

Of course I am open to suggestions on what I did wrong, and I'd love a good zucchini bread recipe if you have one. Even if it has gluten, I'm working on the whole modifying thing.

Monday, July 20, 2009

You're cleaning so hard I'm afraid you're going to stick the dog in the dishwasher.

I spent the weekend cooking. I finished both of the recipes. Here is what my kitchen looked like after.

Both recipes were very good, so I am going to enjoy the leftovers all week.

I also baked bread this weekend. Last weekend, I make bread with a mix, and realized afterward how much sugar was in it. Bummer. So I tried a recipe from scratch. It called for 1/4 cup of sugar, but I just put in a tablespoon of honey. It turned out really well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

But today we're going to learn an entirely new recipe with lima beans.

I agreed to do an interesting task. The writer of one of the food blogs I read is publishing a new cookbook. So she has asked for people to test the recipes. I volunteered and was assigned two recipes to test. I can't tell you anything about the recipes, but I can tell you that I went shopping for the ingredients today. It required me to go to 3 different stores, and cost $38.09.

All I can say right now is I hope these are divine, and that there are a LOT of leftovers.

As a bonus though, I went to a new part of town, and found a nice and close super Walmart. I know, it's evil, but cheap food and better selection than Aldi. And right across the street is a fancy Whole Foods-type store. And best of all they have a pancake and waffle mix that didn't have any sugar in it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

We'll just wrap you in tinfoil and you can go as a leftover.

Well, I finished the week with leftovers. Leftovers both from Heather's visit (pasta salad, eggs and sausage) and leftovers from lunch with my friend (salad, and stir fry). I made one run to the grocery store and got $10.27 of produce (banana, peaches, plums, broccoli, and seaweed).

I also went to the farmer's market. I spent $5 on peaches, $1.25 on squash, and $1 on cucumbers. Then I splurged. I went to a craft fair and there was a stand selling sugar-free jam, so I bought a jar ($7) of strawberry rhubarb.

And then, in true "If you give a mouse a cookie" fashion, because I bought jam, I had to bake bread. So I did.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

And in the morning, I'm makin' waffles!

I should be working on something productive for work. But you can only grade for so many hours of the day. Seriously.

So I'll update you on my food life. My sister came to visit (a fabulous part of my real life). So I stocked up on all kinds of treats, snacks, and really good food. And we discovered that we (both of us together) are just like our mom. We prepare and pack way too much food. And then we decide to buy ice cream from the stand. And it was good.

We ate picnics, ate out, had pancakes, went to a barbecue. Oh, that was a good lesson learned. I will never buy the Arrowhead Mills brand of pancake mix again. I prepared them according to the package directions, and they were awful! Fortunately it made a very small batch, so I threw them away. Then I made another batch with some serious modifications (good thing I've been making so many muffins, I've learned some of the modifications that work). The second batch was much better, but I still won't buy that mix again.

Today I polished off the leftover pasta salad. Since it is named after Heather, I made it for her. We like to take that on our picnics.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A website

Ooh, and a fun new website. Good Bite.

No soup for you

I haven't been grocery shopping this week. Plenty of food in the house, and apparently I only feel a burning need to go grocery shopping when I don't have any fruit. This week I have had an absolute abundance, and have been enjoying watermelon, peaches, strawberries, and even blended some up into smoothies.

So, what have I been eating?

Well, I finished off Heather's pasta salad over two meals. I ate the last herbed tuna in tomato, and for another meal polished off the bit of tuna mixture that was left over. I discovered that the tuna mixture was actually pretty good just spread on crackers. So maybe the downfall of that dish was that I used store bought tomatoes, and since they were the vehicle, the whole thing was just underwhelming. I made a(nother) big pot of chicken and veggie soup on Friday, so I have been enjoying that. And I had a lovely green salad yesterday.

I have to admit, I am really impressed with the soup. To explain: 16 days ago I went to the doctor with a terrible case of poison ivy. Really really bad. I got a shot and some really high powered meds. The doctor warned me that the meds would upset my stomach, and since even advil upsets my stomach, I decided I better be proactive about helping my stomach with gentle foods.

So I went to the grocery store, bought a box of chicken stock and a whole heap of veggies (potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, mushrooms) and made a huge pot of soup. It was fantastic. And of course, I left the grocery store having spent $30. That pot lasted about 5 days, only half the course of the meds. So I made another pot. This time I tossed in some frozen chicken that I had in the freezer (for probably way too long, so the best use for it was soup). That pot lasted another 5 days.

Unfortunately, the 10 day course of meds didn't take care of the poison ivy, and so I had to get another round. So on Friday, when I got the new bottle, I made pot of soup #3. I did have to buy another box of chicken stock, but the veggies are the same from that first shopping trip. Super cheap, super easy, super long-lasting, and nice to my stomach. What more could you want?

The poison ivy trial also explains the muffin kick I have been on. It is helpful to have something a little substantial in my belly when taking high powered meds, and bread is substantial. For gluten-free baking, I believe that muffins are the best. They are small enough to bake easily and evenly. They are small enough to not be too dense in your mouth. And they are easily frozen and stored for use over a period of time.

The reason I have been experimenting so much with muffins is that muffins usually have a lot of sugar. I have been reading about sugar substitutes, and tried a new muffin recipe last night.

Explanations first I guess. I like banana bread. So I always buy a bunch of bananas. Unfortunately, I like to eat my bananas brown. When they are at the point that most people think they are useless for anything other than banana bread, they are finally at the point that I want to eat them. Fortunately this week I have had such an abundance of fruit that I held off, and decided that I absolutely would make banana bread with these bananas.

I decided banana bread muffins would be perfect for a sugar-free recipe because bananas are sweet, and they add moisture, perfect for gluten-free baking. As I was reading about sugar substitutes, I read that raisins are also a good sugar substitute. The banana bread recipe that I found actually added raisins and nuts, so I decided combining the bananas and the raisins would be a good shot here.

To use the raisins I ground them up in my blender. I didn't really want raisins in my banana bread. I just wanted to experiment. This made a little bit of a mess, but I added the raisin paste to the muffin batter and just beat it in hard and fast, and it broke up pretty well.

The result: Really good muffins. Now, these are not muffins for the faint of heart. They are not light, fluffy, silly muffins. These are rich, decadent, solid, hardy muffins. And they taste good.

Banana Bread Muffins
This is adapted from the back of the Bob's Red Mill package
1/3 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used 1 cup of Bob's Red Mill All-purpose GF mix, and 3/4 cup of the Life Tastes Good Again GF mix. Bob's is a combo of bean flours, which makes this a little more hardy, and the LTGA is completely white. The real reason for the blend: I ran out of Bob's)
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp xantham gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (This took 3 bananas for me)
1/2 cup finely chopped raisins (I blended mine in a blender)

Blend the wet ingredients. Add the bananas and the raisins. Add the dry ingredients and mix. Fill muffin tin and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Yield about 15

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do you know the muffin man?

So the new recipe was a total flop. It's so disappointing, I had such high hopes... It was called "Herbed Tuna in Tomatoes," so basically a stuffed tomato. I finished mine and was just like hm. I wouldn't ever make that again. Which I said in order to give my two friends permission to not eat it any more. And they didn't.

The rest of dinner was very good though. I have been working on another muffin recipe all week, and finally feel like I got the proportions and measurements right so that the muffins turned out really well. They actually even stood the eating at room temperature test.

So I'll share the two recipes.

Heather's Pasta Salad
8 oz box of rice penne pasta
1 box of grape tomatoes
1 can of olives
1 green pepper
1 container of feta cheese
italian salad dressing (This time I used a balsamic vinagrette, it was quite good, although I think usually I do a "zesty italian).

Cook the pasta, then shock it in ice cold water. Drizzle a little of the dressing over it, to keep it from sticking. Cut up the pepper, tomatoes, and olives and add in. Add the crumbled feta. Add a little more dressing. Stir. Enjoy.

Note: with the rice pasta this salad is better at a more room temperature. Rice pasta gets really hard when it is straight out of the fridge. So if you refrigerate it (as you should for food safety), just microwave it for 10-15 seconds.

Orange Juice Muffins
This is a modification of an "Orange Muffin" recipe I found on
2 cups of "Life Tastes Good Again" gluten-free flour mix
1 tsp xantham gum
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 egg
1 1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup canola oil

Mix the wet ingredients. Add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. (It is very important to not over-mix gluten free flours. It makes them gross). Your dough will be thicker than cake batter and kind of stiff.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Yield 12 muffins.

Put the muffins on a rack to cool. This is important. I left the first batch in the pan to cool and the bottoms got all soggy and that is gross.

UPDATE: What I should have said is that the orange juice muffins stood the test of being fed to non-gluten free people at room temperature. They ate them all. I call that a success.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Anybody want a peanut?

One thing I have noticed is that I always spend $30 when I go to the grocery store. Hm. If anyone who doesn't actually know me is reading this, I think they will absolutely hate me. So let me just say, I am a single person, and I live completely alone (cue the Hallelujah chorus). And what I mean by spending $30 is that every time I walk in to a grocery store, even just set foot inside, I spend $30.

So here is what I bought this week:

Shopping for the week of June 14

-Nature's Pantry (think Whole Foods. An absolute necessity for me because of their selection of gluten-free products, which they sell for less that other stores that might, sometimes, if the wind is right, carry them)
4 boxes of rice pasta. Total 7.96. Savings (because they were on sale) 2.4o.
2 jars of almond butter. Total 7.58. Savings 1.60
2 boxes of vegetable broth. Total 4.58. Savings 1.80
Total 19.60

Each of these items are staples for me, and so I was just replenishing the stock because they were on some pretty good sales. I'll let you know in the future how I plan to use them.

Bananas 1.70
Orange Juice 1.79
3 lbs Strawberries 2.97
Watermelon 3.99
Canola oil 2.79
Mango 0.59
Apples 1.05
Nectarines 1.77
Hummus 1.69
Almonds 2.69
Frozen blueberries 2.69
Funfetti cake mix 0.89
Total 26.58

Aldi has cheap fruit. So let's see, I used one cup of the orange juice to make muffins. I plan on making a couple other batches of muffins with it, and maybe some homemade popsicles. I've already eaten one of the boxes of strawberries, adding about half to smoothies, and just enjoying the other half. The almonds are a snack that I bought particularly for when my sister comes to visit and if the hummus can remain in the fridge for another week, it will serve the same purpose. The funfetti cake mix needs some explanation I guess. I lead a choir at the church. In order to get people to participate, I have to feed them. I refuse to spend a lot of money on that (because they don't seem to care what it is or what it tastes like). And I found a month ago that I could make cookies out of the cake mix and one cake mix will make a batch that lasts for more than a month. Yay.

-Price Chopper
Salad Dressing 1.49. Savings 1.20
Olives 1.19
2 bags tortilla chips 6.00. Savings 2.98
Feta 2.49
Parsley 0.89
Green pepper 0.79
Grape tomatoes 1.99. Saving 0.50
Capers 3.29
4 bags Frozen vegetables (On sale for 0.69) 2.76. Savings 4.00
2 bags frozen broccoli 3.38
Total 28.51

The tortilla chips were on sale, so they are a snack to have with my sister. We love guacamole. The frozen vegetables are to replenish my stock (69 cents. Woo hoo). The rest of the ingredients are going to be used to prepare dinner for two friends on Sunday.

For dinner on Sunday, we will be having herbed tuna in tomatoes and a pasta salad. Using what I have in the pantry and what I bought this week, those two dishes will cost 14.12. I will also cut up the watermelon for "desert" and have some muffins (have I mentioned I am on a super muffin kick?), which will round out to 19.90.

But I am interested to find out how long I will get to eat the leftovers. Because that is what makes it worth it, right?

And the total spend on food this week: 74.69

Ever been to a food rave?

To explain the title of this blog, fast forward to about minute 9. (Of course you will want to watch the whole clip, because the dancing lesson is just so funny).

And I should probably just explain the concept of this blog. In the current climate of recession/or something, I find myself surrounded by businesses that are cutting back, people who are cutting back, and a general attitude of doing less (hopefully for less money). People always seem to aim this toward food, and I have found myself caught in the desire to spend less money on food. So I am going to try to record my food journey.

Part of this is meant to be a realistic recording of numbers, so it's partly my attempt at budgeting (which I have never been very good at). And part of this is an exploration of recipes. The exploration of recipes comes with a caveat. I have food allergies. That's what I tell people, technically the medical profession would call them intolerances, because I don't think I am at a huge risk for anaphlyaxis shock, but with those foods my life would be extremely unpleasant. So I follow a strict gluten-free diet and in the last 9 months have also worked to eliminate sugar (with, admittedly, varying degrees of success). The caveat not only means that life is more interesting as far as a budget, but that the recipes you see here might be a little unusual. It also means that I have developed some ... not mainstream... ideas about food, processed food, where our food comes from, and what it does to us. I'm not preachy, and I'm not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking. As in all things, we need to find what works for us.

And this is the story of my attempt to find what works for me.