Crusty Sorghum Sandwich Bread

INTRO

Let me preface with two things –

1. I have developed the habit of buying sorghum flour so I always have some on hand

2. This is the first time in almost a year I have attempted to bake gluten free bread. Why so long? Because when I was living in south carolina I could NOT get the results I wanted. I tried different flours, yeasts, recipes, temperatures, etc. You name it, I tried it. And still, no soft sandwich bread with a crispy crust. So, I would not be posting this recipe without it meeting my high expectations for homemade gluten free bread.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 packet active rapid rise yeast

• 1 tablespoon white sugar

• 1 1/2 cups warm water (110° F)

• 3 cups cups sorghum flour*

• 2 teaspoons xanthan gum

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 3 large eggs

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

• 1-2 tablespoons Earth Balance Buttery Spread for greasing the pan

 

MATERIALS:

• Kitchen Aid mixer with mixing bowl

• Kitchen Aid Flat Beater Attachment (you could try using the dough hook, but there has been mixed reviews with some other gluten free bread recipes  I’ve read online)

• spatula

• 2 medium mixing bowls

• glass loaf pan 9×5

 

METHOD

– Preheat oven to 420°

– Combine yeast, sugar, and hot water in a medium bowl. Let sit until foamy (5-10 minutes).

– Add sorghum flour, xanthan gum, and salt in the big mixing bowl. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

– In a third separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and cider vinegar.

– Add the yeast mixture and egg mixture, alternating between the two, while the mixer is set on low.

– After fully combined, turn the mixer up to medium and knead for 4 minutes.

– Scoop dough into the prepared loaf pan that is completely greased with the earth balance.

– With a wet spatula, smooth the top of the loaf.

– Let rise for 10 minutes (this is the beauty of using rapid rise yeast).

– Bake bread for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is browned and looks crisp, but not burnt. To test the bread, tap with a utensil. A hollow-sounding noise indicates that the bread is done.

– Let loaf cool in pan.

ANALYSIS

– The dough will seem tacky in texture and light in weight. That’s okay. It will also seem to be more wet than maybe expected. This dough won’t match the consistency of “regular” bread dough at first, I promise you’ll get the desired results!

*ADDITIONS

– After re-making this recipe about a week later, I realized that the dough needs an extra 1/2 cup of flour to hold together.

Renewal Soup

After the holiday rush, the last thing I want to do is cook an extensive meal that takes a lot of time. I wanted a meal that is not only healthy, but comforting too. I’m snowed in at home from work due to winter storm Hercules. With blizzard conditions here in Maine and wind chill values supposed to be as low as -40 tonight, I wanted something that was warm and cozy. I have leftover turkey from a New Year’s day dinner (thanks Dad) and was inspired to make some yummy turkey soup. But I really didn’t want to go through the process of sautéing vegetables and then watching a pot simmer for hours. The solution was to bring out my crockpot. So, I welcomed 2014 by filling my house with the delicious smell of soup.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 large onion, chopped
• 8 large carrots, chopped
• 6  stalks celery
•  1/2 cup of green dried lentils
•  1/2 cup of yellow dried lentils
•  2 cups of shredded turkey
• 1 quart of vegetable stock (gluten-free, dairy-free, and low sodium)
• 1 quart of water

SPICES:

• 1 tsp garlic powder
• a sprinkle of thyme
• 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
• a sprinkle of cumin
• 1/4 tsp rosemary
• 1/4 tsp black pepper
• 1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place all of the vegetables and meat in the crockpot.

2. Pour the vegetable broth over the ingredients and add the spices.

3. Then fill the remaining space in the crockpot with water.

4. Set the crockpot on low overnight. I left mine on for about 12 hours, until the lentils were soft.*

*This process could be quickened by pre-cooking the lentils while prepping the vegetables.

CONCLUSION:

The only effort required for this meal was to chop the vegetable. The rest was minimal. Especially when considering the amount of servings this soup recipe makes, it is amazing how fast this recipe comes together. And then, thanks to the magic of a crockpot, I don’t have to do anything else aside from wait for it to be ready.

Maple – Raisin Oatmeal Cookies GF & DF

Preface: It’s been awhile since I posted, and that’s because I have been settling into my new apartment in Maine. Husband is getting out of the Navy so we’re transitioning into civilian life. Excuse the absence, please!

This recipe was inspired from a recipe in one of the new christmas magazines I recently bought. I liked this recipe a lot because it was simple to adjust it to make it gluten-free and dairy-free. These type of cookies seem like a great cookie to make as a transition into Holiday baking. I cannot wait to do more of that! December is the perfect month for baking so many festive things… I no-bake cookies are next on my list. Stay tuned!

INGREDIENTS LIST

• 3/4 cup sweet sorghum flour
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 3 tablespoons earth balance or vegan “butter
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/4 cup maple syrup
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• 1 1/2 cup oats
• 1/2 cup raisins

INSTRUCTIONS:

– Preheat oven to 350°.

– Whisk egg, then add brown sugar and vegan “butter”. Continue to mix until thoroughly combined.

– Mix flour, baking soda, salt together, before adding it to the egg and sugar mixture.

– Add maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon.

– Stir in oats and raisins. If needed, add additional oats to thicken cookie “dough”.

– Drop small rounds onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

 

PROS

– The ingredients needed for these cookies are most likely already in your kitchen!

– They were so good I decided to bring the rest into work to share (and so I wouldn’t eat the rest of them all by myself). All of my co-workers loved them and couldn’t believe that they were allergen-free. Most of my co-workers are still convinced that gluten-free baking is an eat-at-your-own-risk activity. I hope these proved them wrong!

– The potential for customization. These cookies could most definitely have unique additions – almonds, walnuts, pecans, apricots, chocolate chips, etc. – that would make them your own.

– These could work anytime of year, for any occasion.

“Get Well Soon” Vegetable Chicken Soup

Has anyone else felt under the weather recently? Last week, I unfortunately managed to contract both an upper respiratory bug and pink eye. Needless to say, it wasn’t very fun and I wanted to make something that was both comforting and nourishing. I knew I had everything at home except for lentils and chicken broth to make soup. When I mentioned to Husband that I kind of wanted to go to the grocery store for those items, he very kindly volunteered to drive me to the commissary so I could feel better.  And maybe partly because it would stop me from whining in between coughing fits. Either way, he won’t admit to the later and I still think it was a very nice gesture.

This is a recipe that contains a variety of vegetables that is sure to deliver a lot of vitamins and nutrients. The chicken broth also gives the soup an enhanced flavor, but if you would prefer a vegan soup than the alternative is very simple: omit the chicken broth and instead use all water.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1/2 cup sliced zuchinni
  • 1/2 cup sliced yellow squash
  • 1/3 cup sliced peppers
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1/3 cup peas
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 10-12 oz diced chicken
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T Earth Balance
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Sage
  • 1/4 tsp. Thyme

**All of my vegetables were frozen. I tend to buy vegetables in bulk, chop them up, and freeze in smaller portions. I did not thaw the veggies beforehand, just added them in. If you are using fresh veggies then this recipe may take a shorter time to prepare. Always taste test periodically!**

Method:

– Saute scallions, celery, carrots together first in 1 T olive oil in a large skillet.

– While that is cooking, add diced chicken to another skillet with the last 1 T of olive oil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cook on medium-low heat with the cover on.

– When the scallions are translucent, pour enough chicken broth in the skillet to cover the bottom.

– Add tomatoes, peppers, brocoli, and lentils. Also add 2 T Earth Balance.

– While the rest of the veggies are sauteing, pour remaining chicken broth into a large pot and turn heat to medium high.

– After vegetables are done sautéing (carrots should be still a bit crunchy, peppers should be soft), pour into a large pot. Cover vegetables with water and remaining chicken broth.

– Add cooked chicken.

– Add seasonings and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and let simmer until serving.

The Best Lemon Chicken Recipe

Backstory:

I used to love to make lemon chicken. I find the sweet tangy fruit flavor mixed with chicken to be super delicious. But somewhere along the way, I experimented with one too many different recipe ideas. Maybe it was the longer cooking time resulting in dry meat, or the fact that I should have known there was entirely too much pepper in the recipe; whatever it was, the end result was so unappetizing that I had avoided cooking with lemons almost exclusively. That is, until yesterday.

A Breakthrough:

I had bought a couple bags of lemons from Trader Joe’s to preserve (here’s one way to do it) but I noticed that unfortunately mold was starting to take over a couple in the corner. I quickly threw away the moldy ones, and let the others sit pretty in a dish on my counter. I walked past those lemons all day wondering “how am I going to use them?”. I know that I only need one or two to make the lemon-poppyseed muffins I’m baking for the base bake sale so I needed to use them up.  Chicken was on the menu last night but I hadn’t decided how I was going to cook it. None of my usual ways of cooking chicken (usually different combinations or individual use of garlic, cinnamon, sage, various italian seasonings, BBQ. I promise to post some of those recipes here soon, too) sounded good. I looked at the lemons and then back at my frozen chicken breasts… And finally summoned up the courage to try it again!

Ingredients:

– Four servings (4-6oz per serving) chicken breasts

– 1 organic lemon (zest, additional juice, and rind)

– 1/4 cup lemon juice (or simply juice more lemons to get this separate amount)

– 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

– 2 T of Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or butter if you can tolerate dairy)

– 1 tsp maple syrup

– 1/4 tsp black pepper (more if desired)

– salt to taste

– pinch of italian seasoning (or any combination of individual italian herbs)

Instructions:

– Combine lemon zest, lemon juice (both fresh-squeezed and other), 2 T of olive oil, 1 tsp maple syrup, and black pepper in a small bowl.

– Preferably, marinate the chicken in this mixture for at least 20 minutes.

– After preparing the chicken, put at least another 1 T of olive oil along with the butter in a pan over very low heat. Cut the rind so the the remaining flesh is pan-side down. Let sauté while waiting for the chicken to be done marinating. The rind will need to be flipped occasionally and moved around. It will also look like it’s blackening a bit; that’s okay because it’s just the sugar caramelizing and will make your chicken taste amazing.

– Turn up the heat to medium. Place chicken and marinade in the pan. Sprinkle italian herbs across the chicken.  Depending on the thickness of the cuts, cook thoroughly until chicken has an interior temperature of 165° and is no longer pink in the middle. While cooking, be sure to flip the chicken and also to spoon the juice (which will thicken a bit) over the chicken periodically.

– Serves 2-4 people, depending on what you serve with it.

Side-dish Ideas:

I paired the chicken with a mix of sautéed garlic veggies: sugar snap peas, pepper strips, and peas. This combination compliments the dish by balancing the meal. Rice could be served in addition, if wanted.

Comments:

– This dish is wonderful for summer! It’s on the lighter side and very refreshing. Plus, it would be easy enough to scale the recipe to feed a group of people. It’s a great alternative to barbecuing.

– It’s a budget-friendly dish. Especially if you buy a a large amount of chicken breast at a time, like I do. Buying in bulk saves you money (not to mention if it goes on sale) and guarantees you always have enough on hand, no matter who decides to show up! I buy a big package of 6-8 huge chicken breast and cut them in halves or thirds to get a single portion. I then freeze two servings in small freezer bags and defrost as necessary. I highly recommend it.

Oh-So-Delicious Vegan Chili

Tonight was one of those nights when I was hungry but couldn’t quite seem to gather the energy or inspiration to make a multi-dish meal. After flipping through a cookbook for ideas (*see below*) I happily realized I had everything to make chili. Even better, I had the opportunity to experiment and make my own recipe. This chili turned out to be so good, I had to go back for seconds (and let’s be real, thirds, too!).

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 T Italian Dressing (I used an organic one)
– 1 T extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil
– 1 small onion, finely chopped.
– 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped (or 2 smaller cloves)
– 1 small zucchini, diced.
– 1 jar or 24 oz of tomato sauce
– 1 can or 15 oz diced tomatos
– 1 can or 15 oz garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed.
– 1/2 can or 8 oz black beans, drained and rinsed.
– 1 cup corn, frozen or fresh (use more if desired).
– 1 cup sliced bell pepper, frozen or fresh (use more if desired).

ADDED SPICES:

– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp black pepper
– 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
– 1-3 tsp chili powder, depending on preference.
– dash of parsley
– salt as desired

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil and italian dressing until translucent.
2. Add the zucchini and pour half the jar of tomato sauce over the vegetables. Let this simmer for a couple of minutes.
2. During those few minutes, drain and rinse the black beans and garbanzo beans. Add diced tomatos, both beans, corn, and peppers.
3. Pour remaining sauce over the entire mixture. Turn the heat up to high and let mixture boil for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least 15-20 minutes, or longer. Be sure to check to make sure that chili is not burning to the bottom of the saucepan occasionally.

COMMENTS:

– Very versatile. Virtually any of the ingredients can be substituted, or new ones can be added, without any difficulty depending on your preferences.
– At a total of about $7.00 and considering it makes at least enough for 6 bowls (more sauce or diced tomatoes could be added to stretch the rest of the ingredients, to bring down the price per serving), this recipe is cost effective.
– The cinnamon is a touch that I prefer, because it adds depth to the flavor of the dish. It makes the chili taste warmer, but in a sweet spicy way, not hot.
– If I had other types of canned beans (kidney beans, for example) I would have added those as well. Feel free to use whatever beans you have at home.

*INSPIRATION*:

This recipe is loosely based off of Allyson Kramer’s book,  Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. Her Pumpkin Chickpea Chili recipe reminded me that I indeed had a long-forgotten can of chickpeas in the cupboard. I was delighted when I realized that I had open cans of diced tomatoes and black beans sitting my refrigerator just waiting to be used up. Her recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it out sometime. I just didn’t have everything necessary this time around. But thanks for the inspiration, Allyson! For those interested in learning more about her, this is her website: http://allysonkramer.com/.

 

Banana & Lemon Bread Muffins

FOREWORD: 
These are probably one of the best muffin recipes I have ever created (gluten-free or otherwise). The muffins turned out fabulously!! They were moist, yet light and sweet, yet not overly sweet.

FIRST GROUP OF INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup earth balance buttery spread

1/3 coconut oil

4 free-range vegetarian-fed eggs

3 bananas

2 T lemon juice

2ND GROUP OF INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup soy flour

1/4 tapioca starch

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1 cup white rice flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 TSP – 1 TSP cinnamon

couple of dashes of allspice

INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix the first group of ingredients together very thoroughly. I used an immersion blender to get a very smooth consistency. Let sit while mixing the second group of ingredients together in a separate bowl. Combine mixtures and again, mix very well. Pour 1/4 cup of batter per one well-oiled muffin tin. Top with turbinado sugar for an added crunch.

Bake at 365° for 15-20 minutes. Let cool on a baking rack.

Makes 18 muffins

If preferred, pour into a loaf pan and bake for 45-55 minutes.