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Sunday, 16 October 2016

Shepherd's Pie

We love a tasty Shepherd's Pie around here-- or, as my kids call it en francais "Pâté Chinois", which is a terribly confusing name.  The end result is the same regardless of the name - a tasty, rich, meat and veggie-filled bottom covered by mashed potatoes and then baked.  I find there are two methods to go about making Shepherd's Pie - one that allows the meats and veggies to simmer for awhile, which lends a depth to the flavors, or you can just simmer it 5-10 minutes and then bake, which cuts down drastically on the cooking time and the end result is still scrumptious.   Just go with whichever version you have time for.  Enjoy!  
Gluten Free Shepherd's Pie
Gluten Free Shepherd's Pie, baking in the oven

Shepherd's Pie
Serves 6-8
Based on a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks (brought back from England) 'Comfort Foods' by Bridget Jones
Makes enough for one 9x13 pan (or pan of equivalent volume).  

In a large frying pan/sauce pan cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes: 
2 Tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 carrots, sliced

Add and cook until meat is fully cooked:  
1 lb. ground beef

Add the following, then simmer covered for 30 minutes.  Uncover and simmer an additional 10 minutes. (make mashed potatoes, instructions below, while meat/veggies are simmering) - *NOTE: if you're short on time, just let this simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.  However, I prefer the taste when the flavors have a change to simmer together for the full 40 minutes.*
2 Tbsp tomato paste 
2 cups beef broth 
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce 
1 tsp salt (unless broth has salt, then do NOT add) 
1/2 tsp pepper 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/4 tsp thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced

Optional: during last 5 minutes of simmering uncovered, add 1/2 - 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Mix together, then add to bubbling meat/veggies: 
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp cornstarch

Pour into baking dish (I usually use a smaller, deeper dish than a 9x13 pan, but one similar in terms of total volume - I used a deep frying pan that is good for both oven and stovetop in the pictures).    Top as evenly as possible with mashed potatoes (from below, made while veggies/meat are simmering).  

Bake at 375 F for ~30 minutes, until bubbling nicely and top of potatoes are just browning.   Serve & enjoy your rich, delicious comfort food!  If you're not happy with how browned the mashed potatoes look on top, throw it under the broiler for a minute or two after baking, just to crisp the top of the potatoes.  

Mashed potatoes to top shepherd's pie

Boil in salted water ~10-12 minutes: 
3 lbs potatoes, diced (skins on if thin-skinned)

Strain and mash with:
 1/3 cup butter 
1/4 cup milk 
pepper, to taste 
1/2 tsp dried tarragon (optional, but I LOVE it). 

Gluten Free Shepherd's Pie
I like to let it brown a bit extra on top, but it's just personal preference how lightly browned you let the potatoes get. Either way is great!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Fennel & Green Onion Omelet

This is a nice, quick little meal that uses a couple tasty fresh, fall vegetables.   This omelet is almost like a frittata in the sense that you saute the vegetables before adding the eggs.    I didn't snap a picture of it since it was eaten so quickly.  You can easily make this omelet with other fresh seasonal vegetables, sauteed just until crisp-tender before adding the egg.  I prefer cutting or slicing the vegetables very thinly for omelets.  Enjoy!

Fennel & Green Onion Omelet

Melt over medium heat:
1-2 Tbsp butter

Add and saute in butter 3-4 minutes:
1/4 - 1/3 cup fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 green onions, sliced
salt & pepper

Add to pan:
2-3 eggs, whisked

I like to flip the entire omelet over - very carefully - before adding the cheese.  This helps avoid any brown outer edges.  (Sometimes this requires that I slice it in half and flip one half then the other if I'm using 3 eggs instead of 2).

Add to omelet, and cook until you're happy with how well cooked the egg is looking, usually not more than a minute:
grated sharp cheddar, or another cheese - feta, gouda, etc. 

Fold omelet in half and serve!   Great with gluten-free toast & a side of fruit.   Enjoy! 

Monday, 3 October 2016

Zucchini Fritters with fresh Tomato Salsa

These zucchini fritters are delicious!  They are a wonderful way to take advantage of all the variety of colors and shapes that make up delicious fall zucchini.  These zucchini fritters have extra oomph, in my opinion, thanks to the addition of fresh dill and crumble feta cheese.  (Feel free to add a little extra feta if you like).  I have enjoyed eating the fritters on their own, but they're fun with fresh homemade minty tomato salsa.  Add a little hot pepper for an extra kick.
zucchini fritters with fresh tomato salsa
Homemade gluten free zucchini fritters with fresh tomato salsa

Zucchini Fritters with Fresh Tomato Salsa
based off a recipe on by Milliker & Feniger

In a large bowl, mix and let sit 20-60 minutes (longer is better) to allow water to leach out:
3-4 medium zucchinis
2-3 tsp salt

In a large bowl, mix together:
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 Tbsp fresh dill, diced
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 onion, finely diced
2 eggs
1/4 cup Kristin's Gluten-Free Flour Mix (or regular flour, if not GF)
1/2 - 1 tsp ground pepper

Heat in a large frying pan, over medium-high heat avocado oil, enough to just cover the bottom of the pan. (If you don't have avocado oil, you can use another oil that is good for high-heat cooking)

While oil is heating, squeeze handfuls of zucchini to remove as much water as possible, then add handfuls of zucchini to the feta mixture.  Mix thoroughly.

Scoop small 1-2 teaspoon sized scoops of mixture onto hot oil.  Flatten each scoop with a spoon.   Cook 2-3 minutes per side, until nicely browned.  Put on paper towel-lined pan after frying.
Frying the zucchini fritters in just a thin layer of oil. 
zucchini fritters
They disappear quickly around here!  I love them nicely browned for an extra bit of crunch.

These are delicious on their own, or paired nicely with something like a fresh tomato salsa, such as the one below (seasoned with mint instead of cilantro).

Tomato Salsa
based off a recipe on by Milliker & Feniger
Mix in a bowl:
2-3 tomatoes, seeded and diced (this helps so it's not as liquid-filled)
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil 
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or similar vinegar
5 fresh mint leaves, finely diced
1/4 tsp paprika
salt & pepper, to taste

fresh tomato salsa with mint and jalapeno
Fresh tomato salsa with mint & jalapeno 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Homemade Gluten-Free Thin Mint Cookies!

Delicious homemade thin mint cookies that are also gluten-free!  Yes, you can!  These are so easy to whip together, very similar to my sugar cookie recipe.    We have loved making these cookies, then freezing and crushing to add into homemade ice cream to making thin-mint ice cream.  It's been a favorite.  My 5 year old helped make and decorate these cookies, and we were all thrilled with the end result.  Enjoy!
gluten free thin mint cookies
Homemade gluten-free thin mint cookies, ready for sampling! 
gluten free thin mint cookies
A happy little girl with her thin mint cookies! 

Homemade Gluten-Free Thin Mint Cookies!
Makes ~32 cookies

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.

In a bowl, mix: (it's important to mix dry ingredients first in GF baking to avoid clumping)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup Kristin's Gluten Free Flour Mix
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

In a mixer, beat until light and creamy: (a few minutes)
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Add and mix in:
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 drops peppermint essential oil*

Place 1-2 teaspoon-sized scoops onto parchment paper-lined pan.  With plastic wrap or a plastic bag over your hand, flatten each scoop of dough.

Bake cookies at 375 F for 6-8 minutes. (6 for softer cookies, 8 for crispier cookies).  Let cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.  

In a bowl, melt at 50% power in your microwave: 
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Add to chocolate: 
A touch of peppermint oil (add by dipping a toothpick into the peppermint oil, so you add less than 1 drop)
1 tsp light olive oil, only if melted chocolate is too thick to dip (Often chocolate chips when melted are a bit too thick to dip in, so this can help without affecting flavor). 

Dip cookies in melted semi-sweet chocolate with just a touch of peppermint oil added OR you can use the back of a spoon to spread chocolate on the tops and bottoms of the cookie (we found this was a great way for little hands to dip the cookies in chocolate with ease).  

You can either decorate as described below, or chill in the refrigerator until chocolate has hardened for plain chocolate-covered thin mint cookies.  Enjoy!  

To decorate:
Sprinkle cookies with crushed peppermint OR add stripes or swirls of melted green mint chips (I find I need to add 1-2 tsp oil for 1/2 cup melted chips, again melted slowly at 50% power in the microwave). 

My 5 year old helped dip and decorate the cookies, she even piped on the green mint onto many of them, then swirled it with a toothpick.  
gluten free thin mint cookies
Dipping and swirling her first thin mint cookie. 
gluten free thin mint cookies gluten free thin mint cookies
Pipe on zigzags of melted green mint chips, then swirl with a toothpick for a fun design! 
decorating gluten free thin mint cookies
One happy chocolatier!  

Chill thin-mint cookies in the refrigerator until chocolate has set.  These store well at room temperature.  We love to freeze leftovers, then crush them to add to homemade ice cream!

* I really like the Doterra peppermint oil.  It has a lovely taste while cooking.  My friend Christine has an online shop where you can order food grade essential oils. 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Rich and Flavorful Chicken Broth with Fennel

This hearty chicken broth is very flavorful, thanks to the addition of fennel tops - it's tasty enough to eat just as a broth if someone is sick, or to add sauteed vegetables and rice to quickly turn it into a soup.  Use in your favorite soup, chicken pot pie, or risotto recipes.  Broth just doesn't look great in pictures - at least not from what I can tell - so no pictures.  Enjoy!

Chicken Broth w/ Fennel

After roasting your chicken and removing/eating the meat, place chicken carcass plus roasted skin in a large pot.  Cover with water, just barely. (I find this fills 1/2 my large pot typically).

Add to pot:
fennel tops (the nice green dill-like stems that grow from the fennel bulb)
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
5-6 coarsely diced green onions (tops & bottoms)
1 tsp ground pepper
1 Tbsp salt

Bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and simmer for 2 hours.   Cool for ~20 minutes off the heat.  Strain and store or use, as desired.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Buckwheat Waffles! Gluten & Dairy-free!

This is a light and crispy waffle with a hearty flavor.  Perfect for adding blueberries into the batter, too!  We also love these with homemade jam slathered on top.   I find you don't even need maple syrup because there's already some added into the batter.  The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd.  Cool your leftovers on a cooling rack, bag and freeze for easy breakfasts you can reheat in the toaster! Enjoy!
Buckwheat Waffles - gluten free and dairy free
Fresh gluten and dairy-free Buckwheat Waffle topped with homemade strawberry-mango jam and whipped cream. Yum! 

Buckwheat Waffles
Makes ~18 pancakes

Preheat waffle iron.

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl: (It's important to mix dry ingredients first in gluten-free cooking).
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
4 - 5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Add and stir just until combined:
1 1/4 cup water
5 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Let batter rest ~5 minutes before cooking.  Cook waffles on lightly buttered waffle iron until desired crispiness is achieved.

For extra deliciousness, add:
1/2 - 1 cup fresh blueberries
GF Buckwheat WafflesGF Buckwheat Waffles
Waffles before and after cooking. Yum! 

Place on wire racks after cooking to avoid waffles getting soggy. (This also makes it easy for waffles to cool nicely so extras can be frozen!  Frozen waffles reheat perfectly in the toaster oven.)

Serve with toppings, as desired.  Some ones we like are: maple syrup, homemade strawberry-mango jam, whipped cream, butter.  Enjoy!  

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Pumpkin Bagels made with REAL pumpkin!

Fall and pumpkins are starting to arrive!  What a great way to combine two of my favorite foods. Anyone who knows me knows I love bagels.  I've posted eleven bagel posts so far. This pumpkin bagel recipe will make a dozen, and one more, which is sure to come, will make a proper baker's dozen.   This recipe works best for making small-sized bagels, because of the combination of fresh pumpkin with the other ingredients.  They're great with a pumpkin pie cream cheese (recipe below), too.  Enjoy the fresh fall pumpkin by making up your own pumpkin puree, or use 100% canned pumpkin in this recipe.
I also include a list of all my pumpkin recipes linked from the pumpkin puree & pumpkin seeds post. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bagels
Fresh gluten-free pumpkin bagels, ready to eat!
Gluten Free Pumpkin Bagels with Pumpkin Pie Spice Cream Cheese
Pumpkin Bagel with Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese (below)
Pumpkin Bagels made with REAL pumpkin (cream cheese recipe follows)
Makes 6-8 bagels

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Mix dry ingredients in a mixer:
1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp quick/rapid-rise yeast
2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Add and beat mixture for 4 minutes:
1 cup 100% pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
2 eggs
4 Tbsp oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

*** This dough will be a lot thicker than my ordinary bagel recipe - a little more stiff when you're piping them out.  But resist the temptation to add more liquid.  The pumpkin puree adds quite a bit of water to the dough, and if you add extra water the bagels will flatten while cooling.***

Put batter into a Ziploc (I like the freezer bags because they’re stronger).  Cut 1/2" – 1” off one corner.  Pipe 6 - 8 bagels onto each prepared cookie sheet, depending on desired size.  Brush bagels with water (use hands or brush).  
Gluten Free Pumpkin Bagels before rising
Let bagels rise 30-40 minutes in a warm location. (I put mine on top of the oven).
Gluten Free Pumpkin Bagels after rising
Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.
Gluten Free Pumpkin Bagels after baking
Cool on a cooling rack.  These are great hot fresh, or toasted with pumpkin pie cream cheese (below).  Slice and freeze any extras.  They reheat perfectly in a toaster oven.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Cream Cheese
You can adjust the spices to your personal taste.  Either use pumpkin pie spice, or a little of the spices listed here plus the brown sugar and pumpkin puree.
Mix together:
1/2 container cream cheese (~4 oz.)
3-4 Tbsp 100% pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch cloves
pinch allspice
pinch ginger