Wednesday, October 5, 2011

15 Bean Soup with Bacon


Lately we have been trying to eat more beans as main dishes (they're supposed to be so good for you and your heart and all that) and I have to admit I have been having a hard time finding good main dish recipes. Beans (in America, anyway) are usually served as a side dish, and more often than not are slathered in barbecue sauce and brown sugar. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but it's not exactly main course fare! If we're eating beans for dinner, I want the recipe to be hearty and satisfying, not sugary. Thankfully, this recipe is both hearty and satisfying, and it has become one of our family favorites. And of course as an added perk, beans are incredibly inexpensive - You can feed an army for less than $1 a person, as the saying goes!


It may seem like this recipe takes FOREVER to make (soaking the beans overnight, boiling the beans, simmering the soup), but it actually requires very little actual working time - I would say maybe 15 minutes total, just to saute the bacon and the onions.

1 lb bag 15 bean stew bean mix
1/2 lb sliced bacon
1 quart stock (I use beef, but chicken is great too)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a garlic press
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
kosher salt
cracked black pepper
optional: cayenne pepper to taste, white or brown rice for serving over

1. Remove the beans from the packaging, and place in a large pot. Discard that little packet of MSG (it's bad for you!) Fill the pot with cold water, covering the beans by at least 2 inches (I didn't do this last time, and my exposed beans sprouted. Lesson learned!). Let sit at least 6 hours or overnight (you can do this in the morning or the night before. More soaking doesn't hurt!). Rinse the beans in cold water, until the water runs clear. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Boil beans for about 2 hours, skimming off an scum from the surface of the water. When beans are tender and soft when pierced with a fork, they are done. Remove from heat, and pour off any excess water ( I never seem to have any - mine often turns to soup all on it's own when the small beans disintegrate. If this is the case, just reduce the amount of stock you use to 2 cups).

2. Dice bacon strips into a small dice. In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, saute bacon over medium heat until very crisp and golden, about 15 minutes (if it's soft at all, it get's mushy and chewy in the soup), being careful not to burn it. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and place diced onion and garlic in the left-over bacon grease. Saute until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add stock, diced tomatoes, beans, bacon, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil, and simmer 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cayenne pepper to taste, and correct seasonings if it needs more salt or pepper. Serve on it's own, or with a little dollop of sour cream. Also great over rice!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roulade Cake with Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Filling


Well, it seems my little 2 week vacation from blogging turned into a ::ahem:: a 6 week one. To be fair, I went back to school this semester for the first time in 6 years, and oh my gosh people, did you know that have to do homework when you are are in school? I seem to have forgotten this, and how much time it takes up. Especially when you have a 2 year old interrupting you every 30 seconds (not exaggerating) because he wants you to play choo-choos with him. I've found myself snapping "go play!" at him more than once, and it's definitely been an adjustment, figuring out how to balance getting my stuff done and being a good attentive mom.

And lest you think I am poring over the books (I mean I do, sometimes), I'm going back to school to pursue costume design, which means I have to sew all the time. Doing this with James around is a real challenge. Either he's yanking the fabric out of the machine with his sticky little hands that have been God knows where (Chocolate on silk! Nooooo!!), or worse, he's trying to help! A couple of months ago when he was trying to help, he was sitting next to me watching the machine when suddenly, he reached out mid-stitch and tried to grab the moving needle! I think you know what happened next. Yes, I stitched through his finger. I stitched him TO the fabric I was sewing. The needle went all the way through the finger and back out again, leaving threads running through his flesh. There was a moment while we both just sat there in shock, his finger caught in the machine, before we both started screaming. Yikes! I quickly cut the threads to get him out of the machine, and luckily, the needle puncture was a very clean wound and it didn't hit the bone (I'm thankful we avoided another ER visit). Still! Now I pretty much only sew during naps or after he's gone to bed for the night. This is, of course, when I used to blog (it's hard to use a computer when James is up - he's always pushing it out of my lap and trying to play with it), so you see my conflict. My blogging time is now sewing time.


I'm finally sort of getting the hang of it though, and I'm back with a bang! This recipe is hands down my absolute favorite autumnal recipe, and it's so, so good. It was a huge favorite at parties last year, and I must have made it 8 times. In fact, the only reason I didn't post it then was that I was never able to get a picture of it before someone or other had gobbled it up! My sister (who is also gluten-free) also made this cake over and over again, to rave reviews. And though this cake is quite impressive and looks difficult to make, it's actually very easy! Just follow the step by step guide, and you'll have your own pretty pumpkin roulade in no time!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Roulade Sponge Cake with Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Filling
adapted from Ina Garten

I tried using Ina Garten's mascarpone filling over and over again, and ever single time it was curdled, runny, and disappointing. So I started substituting this filling, and boy was it ever popular! My filling is practically foolproof and everyone loves it, so I'll never go back. Ina calls for chopped crystallized ginger in her filling, and I would say it's optional. Some people love it, but when I'm making it for a crowd I leave it out so the cake suits everyone's taste.

For the Cake:
3/4 cup gluten free flour (I like to use 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour [such as the certified GF oat flour from Bob's Red Mill], 1/4 cup sweet rice flour, and 1/4 cup superfine white rice flour, but any all-purpose mix will work great!)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For the filling:
8oz cream cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin butter

1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (a large baking sheet with sides that go up about 3/4 of an inch) with parchment. Lay out a large dish towel or tea towel on a flat surface, and sift the 1/4 cup of powdered sugar over it (this keeps the cake from sticking to the towel).

2. Sift together the gluten free flour(s), baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a stand mixer, beat the 3 eggs on medium-high speed with 1 cup granulated sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes (set a timer!). Add pumpkin, and mix until fully incorporated. With mixer on low, add flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pan and spread evenly (I like to give the pan a tap or two to really even it out). Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until cake is golden, and spring back to the touch.

3. Remove cake from oven, and flip face down onto the prepared tea towel. I know this move is scary - you can do it! Yes, do this when the cake is hot. We have to roll it up before it cools, so that it doesn't crack or break.

Peel the parchment off the back of the cake. Look how not-perfect my cake is - and it still turned out lovely! Yours will too :)

Fold one end of the tea towel over the cake, then roll it up. Let cool completely - if it's still warm at all, it will melt the filling and you will have a mess on your hands!

For the filling: While cake it cooling, beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 5 full minutes (you can bring your cream cheese to room temperature first, but if you often forget like me, just beat it a little longer and it will warm up in the bowl!). Mix mixer on low, add in heavy cream, and mix until incorporated. Once the cream is incorporated, increase speed to medium high, and beat until light and fluffy. Add in optional flavorings - 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or chopped ginger.

To assemble: Unroll fully cooled cake. If you are using (I love the additional pumpkim kick!) smooth on 1/4 cup pumpkin butter. Evenly spread cream cheese filling over cake, and roll cake up (but without the towel this time!) Place on a serving dish with the seam side down. Refrigerate to retain shape and for easy slicing. Just before serving, sift a little powdered sugar over the top. Tada!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Grilled Tuscan Lemon Chicken with Garlic and Rosemary • Grilled Chicken at its Best!


Hi Readers. I'm sorry I just basically disappeared for two weeks, but you know, it was August. And August is hot. And when it's hot, I lay on the couch and eat popsicles all day, and then after that I go somewhere air-conditioned like the mall, because it's so hot. I do not sit around in my hot hot house and blog for you, because I am selfish like that. Sorry.

But now it's September! The month of pumpkin spice lattes, crisp autumn leaves, snuggly sweaters and scarves, and fresh notebooks full of crisp white paper ready for a school years worth of notes! I love September. (And true to form, we had a chilly overcast marine layer all summer and them today was THE hottest day of the entire year. Thanks California! Love how you never go with the seasons like everywhere else does! Stay classy!) And with September comes more recipes. That's right - I'm blogging even though it's the hottest day of the year. That's how committed I am to September people!

And here is a recipe for you. This recipe is seriously the best grilled chicken I have ever had. Pardon me if I tread on your toes, but generally I really don't like grilled chicken. It's just always so dry and so bland, and the only thing that gives it any interest at all is barbecue sauce, and that generally only makes it edible - hardly delicious. And yet for whatever reason, this recipe is so moist and tender, and busting with flavor. It's so delicious! And the lemon garlic sauce is seriously to die for. We served this with roasted potatoes and grilled veggies and it was an absolutely delicious meal.

Tuscan Lemon Chicken with Garlic Rosemary Sauce
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home, By Garten

Ok, don't freak out because this recipe calls for a whole stick of butter. When you divide that up amongst all the people eating (not to mention that part that is most regrettably left in the pan) it really comes out to very little. and it's SO delicious. And honestly, in the grand scheme of things? A little butter in not so bad. It much, much less bad than a fast food hamburger, or a candy bar, or a soda, and I bet you have that every now and then, don't you?

1 3.5ish pound chicken (fyi, I am sure you could make this with any other cut of chicken from the grocer - I just happen to love that it works with whole chicken so well, because it's the cheapest by far! I also love to save the bones from whole chickens for stock!)

1/3 cup good olive oil
zest of two lemons
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3-4 large cloves fresh garlic, minced or passed through a garlic press
2 tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 stick unsalted butter
freshly ground pepper
kosher salt
1 lemon, halved

1. (This is the grossest step, fyi, but it really makes it easy to grill!) Rinse chicken and pat dry. With a pair of cooking shears (or a VERY clean pair of scissors - wash them with dish-soap or run them through the dishwasher - Or of all else fails, a large cooking knife), cut out the backbone of the chicken (I always throw it in a ziplock bag in the freezer for stock). I just cut right up each side of the chicken. Trim any large chucks of excess fat. Spread the chicken open, cavity side down, and press down firmly with the hell of your palm, until the chicken is flat. Sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper

2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, and 1 tsp pepper. Place chicken in a large 1 gallon ziplock bag, and pour marinade over chicken. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible, and turn to coat. Refridgerate chicken a minimum of 4 hours, but up to overnight, turning once or twice.

3. When ready to grill, heat grill to medium high. Remove chicken from bag, saving whatever juices are left over in the bag, and place chicken on the grill skin side up. Cook 15 - 25 minutes, until golden brown (adjust heat if necessary if chicken browns too quickly or begins to burn. Grills can be so different from one another!). Turn the chicken skin side down, and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes, until skin is brown and crisp, and meat is cooked through. Grill the lemon halves, cut side down, for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

4. Remove chicken from heat, and let rest on a cutting board (tented with foil or something like that, so it doesn't get cold) 5 minutes. Remember that left over marinade? I hope you saved it! In a small saucepan, combine leftover marinade, butter, and any juices from chicken resting place. Heat, and bring to a boil, whisking to combine. Chop the chicken into 4 pieces, and top with garlic rosemary sauce. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ina Garten's Mustard Roasted Potatoes


If you can believe it, I have had this recipe on my list of things to cook for almost three years, and I only just now got around to trying it. This is so sad, because these potatoes are UH-MAY-ZING. I have cooked many a so-so dish over the past three years, and I really wish I had made these instead, because they are hands down some of the delicious, flavorful potatoes I have ever had. I want to run away with them and get married and live happily ever after, I love them so. Is that enthusiastic enough of an endorsement? Are you convinced? Maybe you need a man to tell you what's what. If that's the case, here's Nate's opinion:

"The mustard seeds lent an lighter yet deeper flavor. It made them different than just...mustard, but, much more interesting. They needed to be cooked longer. They were good. I don't know. Do you want your wine? What, are my comments not enough? It's what I got right now. Oh, wait, you should tell them those spots on the potatoes are mustard seeds. I saw them and I was like, what the heck is this on my potatoes? You should definitely tell them that."

There you go. Lighter yet deeper flavor people. And also, they were good. He's a real Don Draper, that one, am I right?? ;)

We thought these were spectacular with steak, and I think it helps to use a really high quality mustard. Definitely making again!

Ina Garten's Mustard Roasted Potatoes
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Nate's "they needed to be cooked longer" comment was due to the fact that I pulled the potatoes out early so he could eat them WITH HIS STEAK before he left for his book club. His life is so hard, isn't it?

2.5 lbs small flavorful potatoes, such as red or Yukon Gold
1 onion (white or yellow)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Scrub and dry potatoes, slice into wedges, and place on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish.

2. In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, whole grain mustard, salt, pepper, and parsley. Pour over potatoes, and toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven 30 - 40 minutes, until potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork, and are crisp around the edges. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pomalicious Pomegranate Raspberry Popsicle ~ Ice Pop Joy!

Pomegranite pop

This pop is definitely a grown-up favorite (I don't think kids always appreciate the delicious complexity of pomegranate), but when a batch of these pops, they were practically inhaled at my Bible study group. Of all the flavors I had floating around in my fridge, this is the one everyone wanted. I had to beat the crowd off with a stick to have a single one left for pictures, and as you can see, it's cracked! This pop is definitely bursting with juicy flavor, and is a big favorite at our house. Just make sure you aren't wearing white when you eat it - this pop is a powerhouse of anti-oxidants, flavanoids, and vitamin C, which means it has a lot of color! One melty drop on a hot summer day, and whatever you're wearing is colored forever. In fact, do yourself a favor and eat this one in your bathing suit!

Pomalicious Pomegranite Raspberry Popsicle
adapted from Ice Pop Joy! by Anni Daulter

the original recipe also called for 1/2 a cup of cherry tomatoes, but I just wasn't into that. If that sounds like something you would like, by all means include them!

I thought these pops were a bit tart, so I added about 2 tablespoons on honey to sweeten them up. You can sweeten them to whatever tastes right to you!

1 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
(optional: 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes)
honey to taste

1. Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add honey to taste if too tart for your liking.

2. Pour into popsicle molds, and freeze 5+ hours until solid. Enjoy!

Melon Madness Honeydew Popsicle ~ Ice Pop Joy

Melon Pop
pops 10

This popsicle is way more delicious than I thought I was going to be - I looked at the ingredient list (melon, mint, agave, lime. . . cilantro? Hm.) and I had my doubts, but the finished product totally put them to rest. This pop is totally refreshing, unexpected, and delicious! It is SO good on a hot summer's day, barely register's as a blip on the calorie meter, and is loaded with vitamin C. It's definitely one of James' favorite pops, and I know we will be making this one for a long time.

If you haven't entered yet, make sure to stop by this post, and register to win a copy of Ice Pop Joy or the Progressive International popsicle mold!

Melon Madness Honeydew Popsicle
from Ice Pop Joy! by Anni Daulter

1/2 honeydew melon, scooped from shell and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons raw agave nectar
juice of 1 fresh lime (2 tablespoons)
juice of 1/2 a lemon (1.5 - 2 tablespoons)
1 cup ice

1. Put the melon, mint, and cilantro in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the agave, lime juice, lemon juice, water, and ice, and blend all the ingredients until smooth.

2. Pour into molds, and freeze until solid, 5+ hours. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pure Sunshine Strawberry Mint Pops ~ from Ice Pop Joy!

pops 10

These pops are incredibly refreshing, bursting with fresh strawberry flavor! They are such perfect pops for summer - strawberries are so juicy and flavorful in the summer, and kids love them! As some of you may know, my 2 year old son James pretty much only eats white food (and chocolate. But that's another story). We've been working on eating colors, but the only red food I've gotten him to eat so far is watermelon... and these pops!

Getting kids to eat fresh (or raw) fruits and veggies is not always easy. Heck, getting adults to eat fresh fruits and veggies is not always easy. But somehow, if it's pureed into a pop, it somehow seems so much more delicious. I doubt I will be getting James to try strawberries any time soon, but he will totally eat them in this pop! And to be honest, I will too! I love these - they are the perfect non-guilty afternoon treat.


Pure Sunshine Strawberry Mint Pops
from Ice Pop Joy! by Anni Daulter

1 cup hulled and chopped strawberries
juice of 1.5 meyer lemons (regular lemons will do, but you may need to increase the sweetener)
1/2 a tablespoon chopped fresh mint
4 tablespoons honey (or more to taste)
1/2 cup purified water
1 cup ice

1. Puree the strawberries, lemon juice, mint, honey, purified water, and ice in a blender until smooth.

2. Pour into mold, and freeze until solid, 5+ hours. Enjoy!

Toasted Coconut Popsicles ~ A Mexican Paleta by La Newyorkina

Coconut Popsicle 2
pops 9
Coconut pops 2

I'm posting this popsicle recipe first by request, because, as my friend Kathy puts it, "this popsicle is changing my life." It's that delicious! In fact, it's one of the most popular pops flavors at La Newyorkina, and I can see why: it's decadently rich and creamy, but the toasted coconut brings it to a whole new level with it's nutty crunch. It's the perfect icy summer treat! If you like coconut, you will love this.

Coconut Pops

Toasted Coconut Popsicles ~ A Mexican Paleta by La Newyorkina
from Paletas, by Fany Gerson

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 can (140z) coconut milk
3/4 cup half & half
1 can (13.5oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread shredded coconut in a thin layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. Toast 10-15 minutes, stirring often to ensure even browning and no burning. Remove from oven, and let cool to room temperature.

2. In a blender, combine coconut milk, half & half, sweetened condensed milk, salt, and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth, then stir in the toasted coconut by hand. Pour into molds, and freeze 5+ hours until firm. I store mine wrapped in an airtight container in the freezer, wrapping each pop in a piece of parchment paper to keep them from sticking together.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Popsicles Week and a Giveaway!

pops 5
pops 8
pops 7

If there's one thing I have fallen in love with this summer, it's homemade popsicles! I don't know what your summers are like, but here in the desert that is Southern California, it's hot. HOT HOT HOT. And while it may be gloomy and gray in June, it's always hot in August and September (and sometimes October, November, and December. The weather is wacky and backwards here). All that is to say, we are heading into the hottest part of the year here, the time of year when some icy refreshing pops are in order!

Now if you are like me, you probably are excited about the idea of making popsicles, but don't really know where to start. And if you are like me, you have probably looked at grocery store pops and thought "really? corn syrup and food coloring?? It doesn't get better than that?" Or, you get the "healthy" pops made from all fruit, but they cost like $4 a popsicle! Well, I'm happy to say that making pops at home is a breeze, you can make them however healthy (or decadent!) you like, and I'm here to help get you started! So, drum-roll please.....

This week on Delish is pops week! All week I will be featuring great popsicle recipes and giving away some great popsicle swag to help you get started! Ready to get started? I'm ready! Lets go!

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You can make popsicles in just about anything - cups, glasses, ice cube trays, etc., and there are lots of popsicle molds out there as well. But if you want a really awesome popsicle mold, you can't go wrong with this freezer pop mold from Progressive International, an awesome kitchenware company located in Washington. I've used a lot of molds, but this really is the best mold I have ever used, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's sturdy, well made, easy to use, and I LOVE that it uses wooden popsicle sticks, meaning you can make an unlimited amount of pops! As soon as one batch is frozen, you pop them out of the mold and make another. No waiting till you eat the old ones, no fuss. This is the mold I use, and I like it so much I want to give one to you! So our friends over at Progressive International have agreed to give away one popsicle mold as well as two packs of popsicle sticks to one lucky reader!


If you just can't wait to win it, you can pick one up at their website, or on!

The next thing you need to get started are some great recipes. I'm not going to lie: sometimes, I just pour juice into the mold and call it a day. And those pops are great! (In particular, we love popsicles made of the Strawberry Lemonade at Trader Joe's) But you can do so much more, which is why I am pleased to feature recipes from two of my most favorite popsicle recipes books all week long! The first book is called Ice Pop Joy, by Anni Daulter. I cannot even tell you how much I love this book! Anyone who has kids (or is a kid at heart) knows how hard it can be get them to eat healthy. (James? He only eats white food. It kills me. He will eat these pops though!)

Ice Pop Joy is full of incredible, all natural recipes using whole foods and natural sweeteners like honey and agave nectar, and these recipes are so good. All the recipes are so fresh and pure, but with sophisticated blends of flavor I never would have thought of. They leave you feeling like you just ate something really good, that was somehow, miraculously, good for you! They're great for kids, but they are also great, no-guilt treats for grown-ups too! The book is beautifully photographed, and every recipe is a winner. I am so delighted to tell you that the author has agreed to give away a copy of her book to one lucky reader!

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I will be featuring recipes from the book all week, but if you want to buy it now, you can find it on Amazon, and you can also check out Anni's e-magazine Bamboo: Conscious Family Living.

The second cookbook we will be featuring this week is Paletas, by Fany Gerson. Paletas are Mexican popsicles, and Fany Gerson is the owner of the acclaimed La Newyorkina, a Mexican frozen treats and sweets business in New York. If Ice Pop Joy is refreshing and pure, Paletas is sultry and decadent, featuring classic Mexican flavors: spicy pineapple, Mexican hot chocolate, carmel, avocado, and so on. The toasted coconut pop seriously blew our minds it was SO good! We will be featuring her recipes all week, and Fany has generously agreed to give away a copy of her book to share with you!


Can't wait? But her recipe book on Amazon!

Giveaway details!

To enter, leave a comment telling us your name and your favorite summer dessert! For a second entry, like us on facebook, and come back and leave a second comment! (two entries maximum per person).

Giveaway open until 5pm pacific time, Monday August 15th, when comments will be closed. Winners will be announced Tuesday, August 16th.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Vegetable Stirfry with Garlic Chicken and Quinoa


Summer vegetables are here! You know when summer's bounty has arrived because you go from having no tomatoes, corn, or zucchini at all, to having it coming out your ears! It's like a tidal wave of produce washing over your kitchen and coating every counter and open surface with vegetables that have to be eaten RIGHT NOW. As we speak, I have two gigantic baskets of cucumbers waiting to be scrubbed and pickled (and more on the bush!), and a Trader Joe's bag full of tomatoes. What to do? What to do?? Get cooking, that's what!

I have a confession to make: I find quinoa (say it KEEN-wah) to be intimidating and scary. I have had a box of it sitting in a dark corner of my pantry for over a year, and never once have I thought to myself "yum, just what I'm wanting for dinner." It's scary! And I probably never would have done anything with it at all if I hadn't had a quinoa/blackbean/corn salad at a recent potluck. It was good! A little bit like brown rice, actually, but softer and with a more hearty, nutty flavor.

So make it I did, and we were all big fans of this recipe. I mean, even JAMES loved it, and he's the pickiest eater ever. And it has zucchini in it, which Nate claims to hate, and he loved it to. So, ready to be brave? Try it! You'll like it!


Summer Vegetable Stirfry with Garlic Chicken and Quinoa
Serves 4

Feel free to play with the vegetable combinations - I used cherry tomatoes and zucchini because that's what I had to use up, but I think it would have tasted great with corn, diced baked squash, sauteed spinach, or whatever is in season near you. This was also great with a little drizzle of salad dressing on tip!

1 cup dried quinoa
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, mined or put through a garlic press
1 chicken breast, or 3 chicken tenders, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
3-4 tbs olive oil
salt, pepper
optional: ranch or Caesar salad dressing, grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup quinoa to boil with 2 cups of water. Reduce heat to low, and cover, cooking until water is absorbed, and quinoa is soft.

2. Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed skillet, heat about 3 tbs olive oil over high heat. Sautee diced onions in the oil until softened and translucent. Add chicken and garlic, salting and peppering generously. Don't stir the chicken too much - you want it to brown. When chicken in cooked through (5-7 minutes), add zucchini and cook until softened and beginning to brown. Add cooked quinoa to skillet, and turn off the heat. Stir in cherry tomatoes and basil. Adjust salt and pepper if necessary, and drizzle a little salad dressing over the top, or sprinkles with Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Best EVER Gluten Free Soft Iced Sugar Cookies!

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You know those super soft, frosted sugar cookies with festive sprinkles that they sell in the plastic boxes at every grocery store in the world? Yes, you know what cookies I am talking about: always decorated with colors and sprinkles to go with whatever holiday is coming up next?

I miss those cookies.

I don't usually use other blogger's posts as launching points for my recipes (that's really phoning it in, in my opinion), but this sugar cookie recipe really is just something else. I needs to be shared. It's the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever tried (gluten free or not, and that's saying something), and it's so good, it will make you cry. I mean it. It's just like the original grocery store sugar cookie, but better. (and to be fair to myself, I did adapt this recipe to be gluten-free myself, so I sort of made it up, I guess!)

It's hard to be gluten-free all the time, and to say to yourself, "I will never eat this or that ever again" (Au revoir croissants, puff pastry, sourdough bread! Perhaps we shall meet again on the other side!). It's ever harder to say to your children, "you will never even know what that tastes like." (Alas, goldfish crackers and icecream cones!) It sucks. And while I know that in the grand scheme of things this "hardship" is really nothing, try explaining that to a 2 year old when everyone else is eating birthday cake at a party or Cheerio's for snack, and he doesn't get anything at all! It's an unjust world.

My little helper assisting with dough quality assurance
Cookies 3
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The kids at VBS loved the cookies too!

But back to the cookies. Children love sugar cookies, and yes, the child in each of us probably gets a little pang of sadness every time we go to the grocery store and pass the boxes of brightly decorated cookies we can't ever taste again. The thing is, those grocery store cookies didn't actually taste all that great. Super soft, a little bland, very sugary, but always with that unmistakable tang of cheap, artificial ingredients. I was at the store a day or two ago, and I picked up a box of these cookies to read the label: the ingredients list was as long as my arm and full of unpronounceable words. It was like a laundry list of food you shouldn't put in your body: refined white flour, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil, preservatives. Mmm, exactly what I want to feed my children! Not that I could feed it to my children because of the gluten, but you get the point.

Are you ready to have your world rocked? You can make those sugar cookies at home. You can make them with whole, wholesome ingredients. You can make them taste better than the store bought variety. And you can make them gluten free. My inner child is doing a little dance right now! And as a mom, I love that I can make these quintessential childhood treats for my own children, and that I can give them something better than what they are missing out on.

The best part? I swear on Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, if you didn't know these were gluten-free, you could never tell. I brought them to vacation Bible school last week, and not only could no-one tell they were gluten-free, but kids and adults loved them! Even the people who don't usually like sugar cookies said they liked these cookies. Now if that isn't a compliment, I don't know what is.

Cookies 6

 Looking for some other amazing, gluten-free cookies?? I've got you covered! 

- Gluten-Free Thin Mints!
- Lil Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies - Gluten Free!
Spicy Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles
- White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
- Chewy Chocolate Cookies with Toffee Bits

Best EVER Gluten Free Soft Iced Sugar Cookies
adapted from Hostess with the Mostess and Annie's Eats

The original recipe calls for rolling the dough into balls and flattening it a little onto the cookie sheet. This really didn't work with the gluten-free recipe at all, so I suggest doing the traditional rolling pin and cookie cutter thing (besides, kids love that). I rolled mine a little thick (a little less than half an inch) so the cookies would be plump, and wouldn't break during frosting (since they are so, SO soft).

Using the correct flours is really important here, if you want to get that perfect, perfect taste and consistency. Usually I say to substitute in an all purpose mix if you don't have the flours called for, but in this case this combination really is perfect. My first batch used an all purpose mix, and it was a bust. Learn from my mistakes!

NOTE: some people have said the dough was a little too soft: I think this probably means you need to add about 2 - 4 Tbs more flour. Since we typically measure flour by volume and not weight, you might have used some more fluffy flour than I did!

for the cookies:
1.5 cups white rice flour
1.5 cups sweet rice flour (mochi)
1.5 cups oat flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
3 sticks butter (1.5 cups), room temperature
1.5 cups white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract (or almond)

for the frosting:
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbs vanilla extract
7-8 tbs milk, depending on consistency desired
food coloring/sprinkles

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1.5 cups white rice flour, 1.5 cups sweet rice flour (mochi), 1.5 cups oat flour, 5 teaspoons baking powder, and a pinch salt.

2. In a stand mixer, beat 3 sticks butter with 1.5 cups sugar on high, until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting for each egg to be fully incorporated before adding in the next. Beat an extra minute or two after last egg, and add vanilla.

3. With the mixer on low, fold in flour mixture, and mix until fully incorporated (with gluten-free baking you don't really have to worry about over mixing). Remove from mixing bowl, and form into a large disc. Wrap with plastic wrap, and refridgerate until firm, about 2 hours (dough can be frozen or stored in this state).

4. When you ready to make the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface (I use sweet rice flour, since it's the finest) to a little less than 1/2 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut to desired shapes, and place in cookie sheet. Cookies will spread very little, so they can be close - about 1" apart.

5. Bake cookies until just puffed and set, but before they have begun to brown around the edges. This will ensure a soft, soft cookie! Let cool, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before icing.

6. To make the frosting: Place confectioners sugar in a medium bowl. Add melted butter, vanilla, and milk, and whisk until smooth, adding more milk to achieve desired consistency. Tint with food coloring, frost cookies, and adorn with sprinkles. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Practically Perfect Classic Buttercream Frosting ~ a la Rose Levy Beranbaum


If you're looking for a buttercream recipe that is practically perfect in every way, this is it! You really can't go wrong with Rose's recipe. I mean, she did write the cake Bible, after all. No, literally. Her cookbook is called "The Cake Bible," and it really deserves that title. It's exhaustive, it's exact, and every single recipe has been tested and perfected to the nth degree. It's my go-to guide for frostings, fillings, and yes, even cake (though I adapt the recipes to be gluten free, with varying levels of success!)

This is the frosting I used for James' first and second birthday cakes, and I also used it on the 4th of July to frost some chocolate cupcakes (which explains the festive sprinkles! Also, the terrible icing jobs. I am no professional cake decorator. Sorry internet. I can't be good at everything.) It's a great base recipe for lots of other flavors and colors, and it holds up very well to mix-ins and flavorings. For James' last birthday we did it in lemon, but you can also mix just about any jam, liquor, chocolate, extract, or candy into, and it will work beautifully.

This recipe is technically what Rose calls "neoclassic" butter cream. She call it this because to her, "classic" buttercream involves a candy thermometer and the softball stage of candymaking, and that gets complicated and is prone to disaster. Her "neoclassic" buttercream side steps this terrifying procedure by the addition of corn syrup. Now before you snatch your petticoats up in horror over the addition of corn syrup, hear me out: Frosting is not health food people. It really has no place in a sensible nutritious diet. And is shouldn't, because that's not the point of frosting. The point of frosting is to be sinfully delicious and have no nutritional value whatsoever. So what if it has a little corn syrup in it? It frosting! It's not supposed to be good for you. So please, have a cupcake. With some frosting! It's your birthday ;)


Rose Levy Beranbaum's Neoclassic Buttercream
adapted from The Cake Bible
Makes 4 cups

The reason this is Rose' favorite buttercream recipe (and mine too!) is that the corn syrup acts as a stabilizer to the sugar, and when the sugar and corn syrup come to a boil, it is exactly the right temperature, no thermometer needed. Further, the corn syrup prevents crystallization, so your frosting says practically perfect in every way.

6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup liquid corn syrup
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
vanilla or other flavoring

Have a large greased glass measure near the stove. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until they are pale in color and thick, 3-5 minutes.

Heat the sugar and corn syrup in a medium saucepan...

...stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.

immediately transfer to the greased glass measure to stop the cooking.

Pour a small amount of the syrup over the eggs in the mixer, and beat until incorporated. Continue until all the syrup is used up, and the mixture is pale and sticky, like liquid taffy. Continue beating until the mixture is completely cool (or you will melt the butter and ruin the frosting).

Got your butter? Awesome! Beat it in, one stick at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding in the next.

When it looks like this, you are done! At this point, you may also add in any flavoring.

Transfer to a storage container, or frost your cupcakes! Enjoy!