Risotto with Balsamic Mushrooms

It snowed today. Technically its been snowing for the last week, but a little bit actually stuck. Normally this would be fine, but I spent a good chunk of my afternoon on Sunday whipping my garden into shape for the spring. We have quite a few raised beds, and grow a pretty good variety of fruits and veggies during the summer. We planted seeds for carrots, spinach, lettuce, swiss chard, beets, zucchini, and onions. We also brought home a bright pink blueberry bush that I am super excited about! After cutting down the massive celery plants that had survived the winter, and totally taken over, I discovered that some of my herbs made it through the winter too!

It was a lot of work, not to mention really cold! This risotto is a fantastic way to warm up after working outside. The mushrooms are by far the best part.

Risotto

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1/3 cup white wine
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

 

Balsamic glazed mushrooms

2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

To make balsamic mushrooms, heat a pan over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, let cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in balsamic vinegar. Turn heat down to medium, and let the balsamic vinegar to cook down and glaze the mushrooms until very little vinegar remains. Remove from heat and set aside until risotto is finished.

In a large sauce pot, heat chicken broth. Chicken broth should remain on heat, barely simmering throughout the risotto cooking process.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add onions and let cook until softened. Add garlic, and cook for a short time until fragrant, add salt, pepper, and thyme. Add rice, coat with the remaining oil, let toast in oil for 1-2 minutes.

One rice has toasted lightly, add in white wine, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Once wine has cooked down, add chicken stock, about 1/2 cup at a time. Continue adding chicken stock each time the liquid cooks down, stirring frequently to develop the starch from the rice. The risotto may need slightly more or less chicken stock depending on different variables. Test rice for doneness based on your own preferences.

When risotto is done cooking, add the cheese and mix in well. Mix in balsamic mushrooms.

*Also good with:
Diced cooked chicken
Artichoke hearts
Sun dried tomatoes
Topped with fresh herbs

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are one of the reasons I will be okay without gluten in my life. Most of the commercially made gluten free products I have tried have a certain off texture or flavor, even the cookies. These cookies though, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from the “real” thing, even the cookie dough tasted amazing! This makes a relatively large batch, nearly 3 dozen cookies, so if you, like me, are the only one at home who really eats gluten free, these freeze up beautifully. Just portion any left over dough into tablespoon sized portions, and freeze on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once they have hardened, place them in a zip top bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Inspired by Cupcake Muffin

1 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 1/2 cups quick cook oats (make sure to use certified gluten free oats)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a bowl, mix together the rice flour, corn starch, tapioca flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Add in vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well to combine after each addition.

Add flour mixture to the butter, mixing until well combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

*For thicker, chewier cookies, chill the dough for 20 minutes.

*For thinner, crispy cookies, proceed immediately.

Scoop dough by the tablespoonful onto a parchment lined baking sheet. If using unchilled dough, the cookies will spread, so give them about 3 inches between cookies. If using chilled, 2 inches should be fine.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are set and golden, and middles still look a little doughy.

Let sit on baking sheet for a few minutes to firm up, then transfer to a cooling rack.

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Caramel Corn (Gluten Free)

Caramel corn is a great snack food that is naturally gluten free. I recently found some popcorn that was marked specifically for making caramel corn, so I decided to buy some to try it. I was kind of surprised, but it actually made a differece!  Don’t get me worng, this caramel corn is great no matter what type of popcorn you use, but if you can find some specifically for caramel corn, give it a try. This is a fast and easy recipe, and it stays good for a few days, but it probably wont last that long! I recommend making more than you think you will need, although it is really easy to scale up or down.

Caramel Corn

Adapted from Allrecipes

1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
10 cups popped popcorn

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place popcorn in a very large bowl.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 1 minute. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.

Place in a large baking sheet, and spread it out.  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Loaf (Eating the Alphabet)

It has taken me years to realize just how much I love lemon desserts. I sometimes even love lemon more than chocolate! In the time that I have been baking gluten free, I have found that more assertive flavors really help to make something gluten free taste like the “real” thing. It is great timing that I am on a lemon kick right now, it seems to work really well for gluten free. So when I decided that I wanted to take part in the Eating the Alphabet challenge, and saw that B would be one of the options for the month, I thought I would take on blueberries, and we all know that blueberry and lemon make a great combination.

There are a couple of things that are very important for this lemon bread. The first is to toss the blueberries in a little bit of flour, so keep them from sinking. I forgot this step, and as a result, all of my blueberries sunk to the very bottom. Also, the lemon glaze is key to making this bread fantastic. It adds a wonderful tangyness, and brightens up the whole thing.

Blueberry-Lemon Loaf

Adapted from Girl Cooks World

3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons rice flour, divided
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Glaze:
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or grease a standard-sized loaf pan.

Combine 3/4 cup of the rice flour, the sorghum flour, potato starch, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, mix the canola oil, sugar and eggs.  Stir in the lemon zest and juice.  Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and stir thoroughly to combine.  Mix the blueberries in a small bowl with the 2 Tablespoons of rice flour and stir lightly to coat the blueberries.  Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.   Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until the top turns a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack.

Make the glaze by combining the lemon juice and granulated sugar and stir to combine in a sauce pan over medium heat. Let cook until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Pour or brush the glaze over the top and sides of the loaf.

 

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Gluten Free Brownies with Strawberry Buttercream

I am not much of a Valentines person. I have nothing against the holiday, or the people who celebrate it, but after the excitement of childhood classroom Valentines exchanges, I have never enjoyed it as an adult. I have seen some absolutely amazing Valentines recipes around the blog world in the last couple of weeks, and I also knew that my coworkers would never let me forget it if I failed to bring in something for the holiday. Since my presentation still is rustic (to put it nicely) I decided to focus on Valentines flavor instead of any kind of decorations.

Strawberries and chocolate together scream Valentines day. I decided on brownies because they work really well gluten free, and I really didn’t want them sitting at my desk all day without being able to eat them! These are fantastic brownies, with a deep chocolate flavor, fudgy in the middle, and the chewy crackle on top that I haven’t been able to achieve in a brownie up to this point.

I adapted these from a regular recipe, and as with all brownies, the small amount of flour makes them work just as well without gluten. If you want them to be standard brownies, just replace the gluten free flours with 1/2 cup all purpose flour.

I used strawberry jam because I had it on hand, but if you have another frosting recipe that you are comfortable with, by all means, use it! If you do use the jam, you may want to add some food coloring to make it a more vibrant pink. I didn’t because I don’t really like using food coloring, so the frosting is not a very pretty pink.

Gluten Free Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 1 8×8 pan

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/8 cup sweet rice flour
1/8 cup potato starch
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a double boiler. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon or stiff rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Strawberry Buttercream

1/2 stick butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup strawberry jam or jelly

In a medium bowl beat the butter with a hand mixer, gradually add in powdered sugar. Mix in strawberry jam or jelly until well combined. Moisture levels may very with the strawberry jam, so adjust with more or less powdered sugar as needed.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Cake or Cupcakes

 

This is absolutely the best chocolate cake I have ever made, gluten free or not. It was super moist, incredibly tender, and deeply chocolaty. This cake really made me realize that living gluten free will not be much of a problem for me. With the exception of a loaf of crusty sourdough bread, I should be able to make a gluten free version of anything that I want. At some point I might make an all purpose gluten free flour for general use, but right now I like customizing the flours I use in each recipe.

These were the cupcakes that my sister requested for a large party this weekend to celebrate my nephew’s 1st birthday. She didn’t request them because they were gluten free, this is just the best chocolate cake I have ever made.

This cake did sink a little in the middle. I haven’t quite worked out the reason behind it, other than the lack of gluten. I will continue to play with this cake, switching out flours to see how it changes. Even with the sunken middle, it was perfectly fine, and really it just means that you get more frosting!

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

 

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup sweet rice flour

1/8 cup  potato starch

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup warm water

 

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients. Combine well. Add wed ingredients. Mix together until well combined.

Spoon batter into a lined cupcake pan . Bake for 14-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cupcakes come out clean.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes or 2 9 inch layers.

 

 

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{Gluten Free} Caramel Chex Mix

Shortly after going gluten free, I discovered that pretty much every flavor of Chex, excluding the wheat of course, are gluten free. I have never made my own chex mix before, but now I am making it in every flavor possible! It’s really nice to have a a quick sweet or salty snack that only takes a few minutes to throw together. This recipe is a really great example of how versatile gluten free food really is. Here is a snack that is common at parties, and for afternoon snacks, and with the simple change of responsible manufacturing, it can be safe to eat for gluten free folks.

This recipe is a great base recipe, and would be great with additional ingredients added in. Nuts, pretzels (or gluten free pretzels), peanut butter chips, or white chocolate chips would all be great additions.

Caramel Chex Mix

9 cups rice or corn chex, or a conbination of the two

1 stick butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300.

In a large bowl, mix together Chex. Set aside.

In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Mix in the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil, let boil for about 1 minute. Pour hot caramel mixture over the chex, stirring to cover as evenly as possible.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until caramel is set.

Mix chocolate chips into hot caramel chex, allow to melt.

Let mixture cool, break into small pieces.

*If adding anything like pretzels or nuts, mix them together with the caramel mixture before putting in the oven. If adding chocolate chips/peanut butter chips or similar items, add once mix is removed from the oven.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Oatmeal Jam Thumbprints

This is a recipe that just goes to show the versatility of gluten free cooking and baking. Originally based off of a regular breakfast cookie, I simply substituted gluten free versions of the same ingredients, and made a few slight alterations to the base recipe. This would work just as well as a non gluten free recipe.

These cookies are pretty fantastic. The closest thing I could compare these to are a soft version of a Peanut Butter Nature Valley Bar. They are less sweet that a regular cookie, but full of oats and peanut butter to make a fairly health grab and go breakfast item; though they work perfectly fine any time of the day!

I decided to make these into thumbprint cookies for easier transportation, but you could also just sandwich two cookies together for a similar effect. These are super simple, quick, one bowl cookies that are easy to whip up any time you have 20 minutes free. You could also make these a little more dessert-like by mixing in a few chocolate chips instead of using the jam.

Peanut Butter Jam Thumbprints

Loosely adapted from Cooking During Stolen Moments

1 1/2 cup quick cook oats, make sure to use uncontaminated oats if making gluten free

1/3 cup oat flour, or all purpose flour if making non gluten free

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

jam of your choice

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a bowl mix together the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add peanut butter, vanilla, egg, and milk, mix thoroughly to combine. The dough will be wetter than most cookie dough, this is normal.

To make thumbprints, scoop dough by the tablespoon full onto a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Place a teaspoon full of jam onto the middle of each cookie. Bake for 12-15 until golden brown at the edges and just set in the center. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

To make sandwich cookies,  scoop dough by the tablespoon full onto a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 until golden brown at the edges and just set in the center. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Let cool completely. Spread jam on the bottom of one cookie, top with a second cookies.

Makes 24 thumbprints or 12 sandwich cookies.

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Gluten Free Cream Cheese Brownies

Welcome to my first ever gluten free recipe post! If this recipe looks familiar, it’s because this is one of the first recipes I ever posted. Brownies are a great beginner recipe when it comes to gluten free baking. These were the first things I made after deciding to go gluten free. The small amount of flour, combined with the strong chocolate flavor helps to mask any undesirable flavors or textures from gluten free baking mixes. I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mix in these brownies. The mix is not something I would use in most situations because I feel that it has a rather bean-y flavor. Once I have a chance to pick up some different gluten free flours I will be making my own flour mixes, but Bob’s worked well in these brownies. For anyone interested in regular brownies, feel free to replace the gluten free flour with regular flour. To ensure that these remain gluten free, make sure to source gluten free ingredients, check your labels!

 

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

For the Brownies:
2/3 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (or regular flour is you do not want them gluten free)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (½ cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs

For the Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Place two strips of foil in the pan, creating a few inches of overhang on either side. Butter the foil; set aside.

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together in a small bowl; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Melt in a double boiler or microwave in 30-second increments at 50% power, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract; allow the mixture to cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Continue whisking until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated.

Make the cream cheese filling by beating the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk together in a small bowl until evenly blended.

Pour half the brownie batter into the prepared pan, spreading it in an even layer. Drop half the cream cheese mixture, by spoonfuls, over the batter. Repeat, layering the remaining brownie batter and cream cheese filling. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the brownie batter and cream cheese filling, creating a marbled effect.

Bake until the edges of the brownies have puffed slightly, the center feels not quite firm when touched lightly, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out with several moist, fudgy crumbs adhering to it, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool the brownies in a pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil handles. Place the brownies on a wire rack; allow them to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve. The brownies can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Getting Back to Normal

Hello guys!

I know it has been a while since I posted last, but I hope you forgive me! I wanted to have some time during the holidays to concentrate on my family, soon after the holidays were over a new term started at school, and these last few weeks I have been working through some changes in my life, and trying to decide how they will fit in to the blog. Last week I decided to get tested for a gluten intolerance, and while the results were inconclusive, I have started a gluten elimination that will continue for about a month. I am hoping that the elimination is successful, and that cutting gluten out of my life fixes some health problems I’ve had for most of my life. That doesn’t mean that I am happy to be cutting out gluten, but I do see it as a personal challenge to find ways to adapt recipes to be just as good, if not better, than standard recipes.

This change does not mean I will only be focusing on gluten free cooking. Due to work and family events I will continue to cook and bake non-gluten free foods, other times I will make naturally gluten free recipes, but there will be a large amount of recipes featuring alternate flours. I also hope that this can be a resource for people who are hoping to find gluten free ingredients. I really do not want to isolate readers who do not follow a gluten free lifestyle, and it is possible that in a month when my elimination is over I will end up going back to a normal diet.

I really hope that anyone who reads this blog will continue to do so as I try to figure out this new change in my life. Recipe posts will be back to normal now that my life has settled down a little.

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