Monday, August 17, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

My favorite time of year is the fall, and my favorite kind of pie is pumpkin. I had a hankering for both this weekend, and as a result: Pumpkin Pie Pancakes were born.

1 cup brown rice flower
1 T superfine sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup tapioca starch
dash of salt
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 T Canola oil
3/4 cup water
1 T honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Mix all wet ingredients together with a whisk in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix with whisk. Pour some of the batter into a well heated and oiled skillet (high heat). When your pancake bubbles, flip it over and continue cooking. When pancake is golden on each side, remove from pan and place on a plate. Top with honey, powdered sugar or pure maple syrup.

NOTE: After several minutes, these pancakes stick a bit to each other if piled on top of one another. Put a piece of wax paper in between each pancake if they are going to sit on a plate for awhile, or if you are putting them in the freezer or fridge to eat later.

Tip: You can freeze your extra pumpkin in ice cube trays, and once frozen, place in a plastic zipper bag to use the next time a recipe calls for pumpkin.
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Crispy Chicken Under a Brick (or Cast Iron Skillet)

I tried this recipe by Tyler Florence tonight, and it was really fun to make and tasted delicious. I was skeptical that chicken on the bone would be able to fully cook in 30 minutes or less, but it did. And the skin was so crisp – it was amazing. The original recipe calls for toasted cumin seeds, which I don't have. Instead, I simply used ½ teaspoon ground cumin. I was a little intimidated about making this dish, but it turned out to be much simpler and faster than I thought it would be. I will definitely make this dish again!!!

I had never heard of “brick chicken” until I saw Melissa D'Arabian from the Next Food Network Star make it in a challenge (she won the competition, BTW). Instead of using a brick, she recommended using a cast iron skillet. How simple! I just put a little olive oil on the bottom of my cast iron skillet before I placed it on my chicken.

3 lbs chicken on bone
3/4 cup olive oil
2 oranges, juiced and zested
½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper, to taste

In gallon zipper bag, mix together 1/2-cup olive oil, orange juice and zest, cumin, curry, brown sugar, garlic and parsley. Marinate the chicken in the mixture for 1 hour, covered in the refrigerator.

Place an ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Put the remaining 1/4-cup olive oil into the hot skillet and wait 1 minute for it to heat up.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, season all over with salt and pepper. Place the chicken halves in the skillet, skin side down. Wrap 2 bricks in aluminum foil (or us a cast iron skillet) and set them on top of the chicken. The weight will flatten the chicken resulting in a very crispy skin.

Cook on the stove top for 10 minutes, then transfer the weighted skillet to a preheated 450° oven. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Use a thin metal spatula to pry the chicken from the pan so not to tear the skin.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fantastic Herb Marinade

At our house, we have a very tight grocery budget, so we don't eat steak very often. When we do, it is usually the cheaper cuts and they need a little “love” to make them taste really good.

This is a marinade that I used on last nights charcoal steak and they tasted fantastic. Actually, fantastic doesn't do it justice. It was fantastic to the 3rd power. When I grilled my steaks last night, I also tossed a couple of small pieces of firewood on top of the briquettes, which really gave the meat a smoky flavor.

1½ to 2 lbs steak
the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp minced garlic

Place steaks and all ingredients in a plastic gallon bag. Seal and shake and massage meat until all ingredients are mixed and cover the steaks equally. Place in fridge and marinate for several hours. Grill to your liking.
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Homemade Broth - economical, delicious, gluten and top 8 free

Little Z seems bothered by the various broths I have used (even the ones that are free of the top 8), and forget using bullion cubes – they all have soy! I've avoided using broths and bullion in the last year or so, and my soups and dishes often seem too salty and one-noted. I've considered making my own, but it seemed like a lot of work, and I knew I wouldn't be able to use it all before it went bad, and I'd end up just throwing it away. And then the thought occurred to me, why don't I just make a big pot and freeze it in the ice cube trays I used to freeze my homemade baby food in?

The key to this broth is chicken bones – they impart a wonderful flavor. I made chicken, reserved the meat for another recipe, and kept the bones for broth. I also started freezing the celery leaves and ends in plastic zipper bags to use in my broth, which I love because I have always felt so wasteful when I throw away the celery leaves and ends! This broth is really economical, delicious, and I know what is in it (no preservatives, thank you!).

2 quarts water
2-3 lbs of prepared chicken with the meat removed and saved for another recipe or meal
olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped (peeling isn't necessary if you are using organic)
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chopped bell pepper
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

Saute vegetables, spices and garlic in oil and season with salt and pepper. Add water and bones. Simmer for at least 1½ to 2 hours. You may need to add more water if a lot evaporates. Do not stir (it makes the oil and fat mix into the broth). Take off the heat and let it cool. Strain broth through a colander into a large bowl. Discard bones and vegetables. You may need to strain it again through a finer colander. Poor into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, put in gallon zipper bags, and label with the contents and the date. Use cubes when a recipe calls for broth. Each cube should be about 1 oz of broth.
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Superfine Sugar, Corn-Free Powdered Sugar, and Corn-Free Baking Powder

Superfine Sugar: A lot of recipes I have been looking at lately call for superfine sugar. I had a heck of a time of a time trying to find it, and finally just Googled it to figure out if I could make it, and what it exactly was. It is finer than regular granulated sugar, but coarser than powdered sugar and helps make smoother batters. It also can support a higher fat content. I ended up making my own by putting a ½ cup of regular sugar in the food processor and pulsing it for a few minutes. I made several ½ cup batches so that I don't have to make it again for awhile. A bonus: it is much cheaper to make your own!

Corn-Free Powdered Sugar: The ratio is 1 cup regular sugar to 1 tablespoons arrowroot starch or tapioca starch

Mix in food processor or uncontaminated coffee grinder until it is fine and powdery. Store in an airtight container.

Note: sugar often contains corn or corn derivatives. Please be sure to contact the manufacturer to verify if your sugars contain corn or not.

Corn-Free Baking Powder: I use featherweight, but you can also make a corn free substitute.
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp tapioca starch/arrowroot powder

Bravo Brownies

These were really easy and fast to make. Bravo Brownies have a chewier texture than “normal” brownies, but they are a great alternative to the wheat version – and they taste really good, and are very moist. Little Z ate them twice today, and threw a tantrum each time we had to cut him off.

This recipe is from “Bravo Brownie Cut Ups” in Cookies for Everyone! (p. 184)

1 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup white rice flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract (leave out if you have a corn allergy, or make your own)
½ tsp baking powder (use featherweight if you have a corn allergy, or make your own)
¼ cup powdered sugar (has corn, you can make your own)

mix all dry ingredients together (except powdered sugar) and add wet ingredients and blend until smooth. Line an 8 by 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil (extend foil over the sides). Pour batter into pan and bake in a 350° preheated oven for 30 minutes (or until edges are firm). Cool completely in pan (for easier cutting, you can freeze for 15 minutes or so). Remove from the pan using aluminum foil and cut into squares. For a fun twist, cut using cookie cutters.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fiesta Stuffed Peppers - a party in your mouth

Every time we go to Chipotle, my husband squeezes lemons over his burrito, and I used to think he was really weird. Until I actually tried it. Lemon compliments the spice and aromatic flavors of Tex Mex perfectly. Although the lemon, green onions and cilantro are optional in this dish, they really bring out the flavors of the beef and peppers, and give it a nice tangy zing.

4-6 large bell peppers (it doesn't matter the color)
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 yellow onion, chopped
1½ cups cooked white rice, prepared in chicken stock
12 oz tomato sauce
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
a few squeezes of a fresh lemon (1-2 tsp)
chopped green onions
chopped cilantro

Cut the tops off of washed bell peppers. Remove seeds and membranes (I also cut off the edible parts of the pepper tops and add those to my hamburger – waste not, want not, right?). Blanch peppers in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then immerse in an ice bath and let drain on paper towels.

Brown the beef with the onions and spices. Drain grease and add rice, 1 cup tomato sauce, diced bell pepper from the tops and heat until hot. Stuff peppers.

Place stuffed peppers upright in a baking dish (I put mine in ramekins in the baking dish if they don't stay upright). Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the stuffed peppers. Cover and bake in a 350° oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until peppers are soft.
Squeeze lemon juice over the tops and garnish with green onions and fresh cilantro. Serve with fresh lemon wedges.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creamy-Without-the-Cream Chicken & Mushrooms Wild Rice

This was pure delight to eat. It reminded me of wild rice soup, and although it had no dairy in it, tasted so smooth and creamy. It was delicious.

1 cup wild rice
10 oz cooked and shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 large onion
2 cups chicken stock (if you don't have an allergy friendly broth, use mine)
3 celery ribs, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds and half rounds (depending on diameter)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
green onions, if desired

Saute onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, salt, pepper and red pepper in olive oil. Add garlic and chicken and saute for another minute or two. Add chicken stock and bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Add wild rice, stir, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 45 minutes. Top with green onions if desired.
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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cilantro and Lime Rice

I found this recipe on a cooking blog I recently discovered called "Closet Cooking." It went really well with my Lemon Lime Cilantro Chicken. I think the rice would also taste delicious with a little red pepper tossed in to add a little heat (I really love heat!).

Lemon-Lime Cilantro Chicken

This was a really nice dinner to enjoy on a summer night. I paired it with Cilantro and Lime Rice, and it was a really refreshing meal.

2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
garlic powder
crushed red pepper
black pepper
the juice from a whole lemon
the juice from a whole lime
A handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Place chicken in an oiled baking pan and drizzle oil over it. Squeeze the lemon and lime juice over it. Sprinkle salt, garlic powder, red pepper and black pepper over the chicken. Rub spices in gently, and spread freshly chopped cilantro over the top of chicken. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake another 20-30 minutes until golden and cooked through.
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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Just Peachy Chicken

Peaches have been on sale lately, and I just had to figure out a way to use them before they go bad. This is also a great way to use up peaches that have gone too ripe, or have a lot of bruises. The brown sugar, raisins and peaches impart a nice flavor without making the meat sweet.

3 lbs chicken breast or leg quarters with the skin removed and the visible fat cut off
4 ripe peaches, cut up (peeling is optional)
1/3 cup packed sulfite-free raisins
1 tsp ground ginger
1 T packed brown sugar
3 T oil
black pepper

Place chicken in the bottom of a greased casserole dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix peaches, raisins, ginger and oil in medium mixing bowl and pour over chicken. Cover chicken and bake at 400° for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes or until no longer pink in the center.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Spaghetti Sauce - gluten, corn, and Top 8 free

We've been trying to rule out a corn intolerance, so I had to rethink and revamp how I made spaghetti sauce for little Z. I used to use store bought canned chili-style or Italian-style tomatoes along with grated veggies and lots of spices, but I still can't find corn free canned tomatoes (if anyone knows of any, please, let me know!).

I freeze any leftovers in 1 cup portions so that I have an easy and quick meal on hand for Little Z on busy days – all I need to do is boil little Z some noodles. I have been making this for a while, so the measurements are my best guesstimate!

1 12 oz can tomato paste
3-4 tomatoes, or a pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
½ to 1 cup water (depending on how thick you like your sauce)
2 T oregano
2 T Italian seasoning
3 large leaves of fresh basil, minced
1 tsp onion powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1bay leaf
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional – have you figured out that we like spice at our house?)
2 large carrots, peeled and grated (this adds a nice sweetness, and helps increase little Z's veggie intake!)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 T chopped green onion (optional)
4 oz chopped mushrooms
1-2 T brown sugar (to remove tartness)
salt to taste
olive oil

In a large saucepan, saute ½ of onion in oil. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, spices, grated carrot, mushrooms, sugar and the other half of the onion and cook on medium heat stirring every few minutes until it begins to bubble. You can add browned ground beef or turkey at this time, if desired. Turn on low heat and let it simmer for at least 45 minutes stirring every few minutes. Salt to taste.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Magnificent Meatballs – gluten and top 8 allergen free!

This is a wonderful addition to any pot luck, and no one will be able to tell that these delicious treats are gluten free and allergy friendly!!! Both methods taste delicious, but I prefer the texture of conventional-oven-made meatballs.

These are soooooo good, and they will make your house smell like you are making supreme pizza!

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground turkey
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 medium diced green bell pepper, stems and seeds removed
1 medium diced red bell pepper, stems and seeds removed
2 T green onions, chopped
1 tsp dried garlic
½ cup crushed original Chex*
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp salt
4 oz tomato paste
1 T flax meal**
1 T water**

*if you don't have gluten, wheat or soy sensitivities, you can use saltines
**if you don't have an egg allergy, you can use an egg and omit the water and flax meal


Crock Pot Method:Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form into golf-ball sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes in a conventional. Remove from cookie sheet and place in a crock pot cook on the high setting for 3-4 hours. Serve over rice or noodles for a delicious meal, or add them to your favorite red sauce.

Conventional Oven Method:
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form into golf-ball sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 30-45 minutes until done. Serve over hot rice or noodles for a delicious meal, or add them to your favorite red sauce.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hamburger Potato Casserole - a hearty "man meal"

I made this for dinner tonight, and my husband LOVED it and called it a "hearty man meal." He ate so much of it, he lay on the floor for a few minutes to recuperate!

1 lb. ground beef
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼” slices
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ¼” rounds
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup dry white rice
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 pinches dried rosemary leaves
½ tsp thyme
1 cup allergy friendly spaghetti sauce
1 cup fresh peas (or thawed frozen)

Brown the hamburger and half of the onion with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, cayenne, and garlic in a skillet and drain off the grease. Combine all ingredients (except peas) in crock pot and stir well. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours. Add peas in the last hour.

This recipe was adapted from M. Kaeter's, "Dinner-a-Day Slow Cooker" cookbook (p.182).
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

"But...they taste like WHEAT pancakes!" Gluten-Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free Pancakes

I make pancakes – a lot. I love them. They are cheap and easy, and, way too delicious to live a life without them. when I discovered my son couldn't have wheat... or dairy or eggs, I was really sad for him. Poor little guy will never be able to have a pancake for Saturday morning breakfast, I thought sadly. Sure, I know that there are several gluten-free foods out there, but I have tried many gluten-free foods, and to be frank, they often taste like swill. But no more. I discovered a recipe that is so similarly tasting to the wheat recipe I make from a Betty Crocker cook book, I am not sure anyone who ate them would be able to figure out they are gluten, egg and dairy free. Really. You have to try these. They are amazing.

I got the recipe from “Cookies for Everyone” by Leslie Hammond and Betsey Laakso (Mini-ficent Pancakes, p. 173). I made these a couple times, and changed the recipe slightly by adding more baking powder. The original recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder, but they end up being kind of chewy and not airy, like I enjoy my pancakes.

There are several ways you can make these pancakes (i.e. use white rice flour and cornstarch in place of brown rice flour and tapioca flour) but I only included the ingredients I used.

1 cup brown rice flour
1 tbl sp honey
1 tbl sp baking powder (use featherweight if you have a corn allergy, or make your own)
1/3 cup tapioca flour
¾ cup rice milk
3 tbl spoons Canola oil
dash of salt

Mix all wet ingredients together with a whisk in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and mix with whisk. Pour some of the batter into a well heated and oiled skillet (high heat). When your pancake bubbles, flip it over and continue cooking. When pancake is golden on each side, remove from pan and place on a plate.

NOTE: After several minutes, these pancakes stick a bit to each other if piled on top of one another. Put a piece of wax paper in between each pancake if they are going to sit on a plate for awhile, or if you are putting them in the freezer or fridge to eat later.

When they look like this, they are ready to be flipped.
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Accidental milk swig

On Thursday morning a friend of mine and her little boy came over. Her son was drinking a tippy cup of milk and I didn't notice it until it was in my son's hands and he'd already taken a swig. It is times like this that I thank God my son is not anaphylactic. Little Z didn't seem all that bothered at that moment, but within an hour or two he started having diarrhea, his stomach became distended, and he wouldn't eat lunch. Two days later, his belly is still distended, he has several funky smelling, food-filled #twos (around 4-5 each day), and has a bright red diaper rash. Poor little guy cries at every diaper change!

Cajun Spiced Pork Chops

Someone posted this recipe on, and it was delightful. I changed it a little because I am out of olive oil and garlic salt.

1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon rubbed dried sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 center cut pork chops or pork steaks

Mix all ingredients and sprinkle and rub into both sides of the pork. Pan fry in oil until fully cooked. A meat thermometer inserted into the center should read 160 degrees F.
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