Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Bento for Autumn

I am cheating a bit here. These bentos were made a while ago. To be precise, this is what we ate for lunch when we went to Heritage Park. But life gets busy and other things demand to be posted, and the poor little pictures of my autumn bento box was forgotten.

However, Brady is working an overnight shift tonight so I am filling this time of quiet after the kids go to bed and before I feel ready to succumb to sleep myself with spending time piddling around on the computer. That has led me here, posting up a picture of a bento box fit for Fall.

The preparation on these bento boxes was pretty simple. (Yes, I know there is only one in the picture, you will just have to trust me that there was more) The leaves in the bottom container are tuna fish sandwiches. I cut out the shapes from gluten free bread using a cookie cutter first, and then assemble the sandwich. That way, the cutting is less messy, and you can still salvage the crusts to grind up into bread crumbs for meatballs, meatloaf, or breading something for frying. Surrounding that is carrot sticks. 

The top portion of the box has grapes and a muffin paper filled with homemade gluten and dairy free graham crackers in the shape of acorns. I am working on incorporating almond meal into my graham cracker recipe, and will post it up as soon as I finish the testing process. I bought special autumn muffin papers specifically for this, but the design does not show at all. Oh well, they worked well for muffins later that week.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gluten and Dairy Free Pumpkin Muffins

With the weather getting colder, I have been craving pumpkin muffins. I was procrastinating on baking any since all of my previous gluten free muffin attempts have been....not so good. I did not want to spoil my fantasy of a perfect pumpkin baked good by turning out a funny looking and oddly tasting muffin. However, Gizmo started asking me about making them after seeing cans of pumpkin at the store so I decided to give it a go and create my own perfect GFCF pumpkin recipe. It took about six tries for me to get it right, but my family cheerfully ate up every attempt. I am my own harshest critic when it comes to my baking, but I think the recipe is just how it should be now.

Since I have long since discovered that the path to my husband's heart is paved with streusal, I made a streusal topping for the muffins. I included the ingredients and directions to making the topping, but it is optional, and we have enjoyed them just fine without it.

2/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup almond flour (I use the leftover pulp from making homemade almond milk)
1 cup rice flour
1/3 cup corn starch
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthum gum
3/4 cup almond milk

Streusal Ingredients:
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a muffin pan by using muffin papers or spraying with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and olive oil for about 2 minutes, or until well combined.

In a medium bowl, blend together the almond flour, rice flour, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, salt, and xanthum gum. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well.

Pour in the almond milk and mix until combined.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup approximately 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 23-25 minutes.

On a few mornings when I have felt particularly lazy, I have prepared a 9 x 13 inch pan instead and just poured the batter into it. This does require a few extra minutes of baking time.

Makes 16 muffins.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gluten and Dairy Free Zuppa Toscana

This recipe was one of my first triumphs against food intolerance. I am pretty sure that everyone who has been told that they should stay away from a particular food starts making a mental list of all the things that they can not have. Even though I was not all that upset when I found out that I would need to avoid casein in addition to the gluten which I had already stopped eating, I did start that list. Lasagna was the first item on the list, closely followed by cheese enchiladas. Surprisingly, I was okay with that. Then, however, I thought about zuppa toscana. My heart dropped a little. Zuppa toscana is a household favorite. Everyone enjoys it, and it is simple to prepare, not an easy thing to accomplish.

Over the next few weeks as I wrote up menus and did the grocery shopping, I found myself pondering what substitutions I could make to the original recipe to replace the heavy cream. Soy creamer was a possibility, as well as making extra-thick almond milk. I ended up using canned coconut milk, and I think I actually prefer my casein-free version more than the original.

  • 2 lb. bulk Italian sausage (check the label to make sure it is gluten-free)
  • 2 large potatoes (I use really large ones from Costco, so if you have smaller ones, just chop up how much you want)
  • 2 Tbsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken Base (or equivalent bouillon cubes)
  • 8-9 cups of water
  • 1 bunch kale (about 9 cups chopped)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour (not absolutely necessary if you don't have it, but does thicken up the broth nicely)
In a large pot, brown the sausage and drain the excess fat. Remove the pot from the heat while you skin the potatoes and thinly slice them. If the potatoes have a large diameter, you may want to cut the potato in half lengthwise before making the thin slices....trying to eat an enormous piece of potato is not an attractive look for anyone. :) Add the potatoes to the pot and cover with water. In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet rice flour with a small amount of water, then add to the pot. Add in the chicken flavoring, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.

While waiting for the potatoes to cook through, wash and coarsely tear the kale. Ripping up the kale is a great job for little helpers, just make sure that the coarse stem doesn't accidentally make its way into the soup pot. Princess really likes helping with the kale.

Drop the kale into the pot and stir it around a bit. Pour in the entire can of coconut milk and stir until it is fully blended. Simmer for about 5 more minutes and serve.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy (late) Halloween!

I thoroughly enjoy Halloween each year. Getting costumes ready for all the kids can be  stressful, but worth it once I get to see them all dressed up. Gizmo helped out with her costume a lot this year, from coming up with the design to doing some of the sewing. She was very proud of how it turned out. But enough of my chatter, and onto the pictures. I had an awesome afternoon photographing the kids with my early Christmas present (thanks, Brady), a Nikon D3100.

Squirt the Mummy

Princess the Witch

Spike the Vampire

Gizmo the Demon