Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coconut Cut Out Shortbread Cookies

It has been snowing here non-stop for the last 4 hours and at times has been white out conditions. A perfect day to lock yourself in the house (well, kitchen) and do some holiday baking. Not to mention the absolutely freezing temperatures...the warm oven and hot cocoa are keeping me warm today and that makes me very, very thankful for a cozy kitchen. My heart aches for those without a safe warm home on a day like today. That sure is something to be grateful for this holiday season. And a reminder to give to those who are in need!

These cookies are actually grain-free if you are into that sorta thing. It is also nut-free but does have coconut, so I guess technically not completely tree-nut free. But it is an option for me who doesn't eat most nuts and especially almonds for the last few years. I miss almonds, but also know that I have felt much better since giving up nuts in my life. That can be understood in more than one way ;)

I love doing cut-out cookies, but the reality is... I am not really great at it. I guess I'm not a very patient person (or maybe dainty, detailed person). So that's my issue :) But thankfully when you have a little 3 year old that is interested in playing in the kitchen this cookie recipe is tons of fun. So you can kinda throw out all cookie making perfection out the door. Such a fun way to bake if you ask me :) 
Coconut Cut Out Shortbread Cookie Recipe
{gluten, dairy, grain, nut and sugar free}

1 1/2 cup of coconut flour
1 cup of tapioca flour
1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1 ts. of sea salt
3/4 cup of softened organic coconut oil
2 farm fresh eggs
2 ts. of pure vanilla
1/3 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup

Mix all of the dry ingredients together, then add the coconut oil and mix well, almost turns into a sandy mixture or like you are making a pie crust. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients and mix well. Then use some extra tapioca flour to dust and form a ball of dough. 
Get out a parchment, rolling pin and your favorite shapes to get ready to make some cookies. I like to cut the dough ball in 4 pieces so that you can roll out the dough in chunks. 
You might need to use some extra tapioca flour for dusting and rolling. And you should try and roll the dough about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick for easiest cutting and moving. The dough may seem a little dry and that it may fall apart, but after you bake it it stick very well together so no worries.
 Place the cookies on a parchment papered cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Until the cookies have a golden edge. You can put the cookies close together on the baking sheet because they do not rise much.
 Let the cookies cool completely before you decide to frost or drizzle with chocolate.
 I decided to try out a chocolate drizzle on these cookies and it turned out delicious (and messy with a 3 year old). But the flavors are great together. Simple and good. 
I just melted 1/4 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips with 2 ts. of coconut oil and then mixed well and used a small teaspoon to drizzle it over the cookies. Let cool completely before you transfer. 
The cut outs turned out great, but you could also make this cookie dough into square shortbread cookies. Or roll out the dough into small balls and then press down slightly and then bake. You could also drizzle those cookies with chocolate for a finishing touch. 
These cookies are a perfect combination of soft middle, crunchy sides and crispy texture. Super easy and simple ingredients always make the best cookies!

Happy baking and ENJOY!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Jelly Oat Cookies (gluten, dairy, and nut-free)

It's that time of year! Cookie baking time! I love to bake cookies and so December is my excuse to make cookies and share them, freeze them, and nibble on them with a cup of my new favorite hot cocoa (or this oldie, goodie recipe too!). 

I'm not going to lie though....these cookies have been a staple snack and treat in my house since this last June. So they are not a very *special* twinkly, glittery Christmas cookie. Just a simple and fabulous cookie that the young and old will alike enjoy. It is my 3 year old's most requested and favorite cookie. Which if I am honest is perfectly fine with me if he wants to eat this cookie more than once throughout the day. There is no sugar, and lots of fiber and protein from the oats....so basically a bowl of oatmeal in a cookie, right?! 
And, when you are gluten-free like me, darling, you need a cookie option like this one. One that you can make and actually enjoy and doesn't harm your sensitive body's eco system known as your gut. Don't cheat with toxic sugar and gluten and fake ingredients. It's just not worth it darling, and if you need me to come up with substitute cookies to appease the thought of cheating....I will, I will!

In the meantime, this recipe I have memorized because of the 20-up-times I have made it. Super dependable and delish. What are your plans for Christmas cookie baking this year? Are you discouraged about GF and trying to avoid ideas? Or are you trying to sub some ingredients in a favorite old recipe? I would love to hear what you have up your gluten-free cookie baking sleeve this year!
Jelly Oat Cookies Recipe
(gluten, dairy, nut, sugar and soy-free, vegan)

3 cups of freshly ground gluten-free oat flour (grind your own GF rolled oats in a grinder/blender)
1 cup of gluten-free rolled oats
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of cinnamon (or ground ginger as a sub) (or a little of both )
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
2/3 cup of soft organic coconut oil
1/3 cup of soft sunflower seed butter
1-2 TB of non-dairy milk of choice
1-2 ts. of pure vanilla
1/2 cup or so of favorite fruity jam (I have used organic strawberry, blueberry and a homemade peach)
All options are good for this cookie. Some yummy combos are ginger and peach, cinnamon and blueberry, and plain strawberry is a favorite around here too.

First in a high powered blender, blend 3 cups of GF rolled oats to make your own GF oat flour. Pour the heaping 3 cups of oat flour in a large mixing bowl, and then dump the rest of  the dry ingredients together. Then pour in all of the wet(syrup, oil and butter) at once and mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands. After mixed, it will be a tad sticky, let the batter sit for 5 minutes and it will meld together well.
Then take a TB of dough and roll into a ball and put on a parchment papered baking sheet pan. You can place these balls close to each other. Then after rolling out the balls, take a small spoon and press it down into the ball to flatten the ball and make a small hole in the middle of the cookie. Then take a small dose (around 1 ts. of fruit jelly and put it in the middle of the cookie. This recipe will make 3 dozen cookies and they can easily be fit all together on 2 large 11x15 pans. 

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 18 minutes. Let cool 10-15 minutes before eating. And they save great on the counter for a few days and freeze amazingly!

Here are a few of my other favorite Christmas cookie recipes 
that I will be making once AGAIN this year!!!

ENJOY and happy baking!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole + Thanksgiving

Happy Pre-Thanksgiving craziness to you! 
There is so much shuffle and bussel and 
I wish you well in the preparing and making. 
And most of all I wish you well 
in the resting, celebrating, thanking, and enjoying 
your loves and gifts in life.
This year I am in charge of some GF sweet potatoes and GF stuffing at our family gathering. I realized that I never posted my "healthified" sweet potato recipe that I have been making the past few years. So that is what is below. Which if you ask me, it isn't Thanksgiving without the sweet potatoes. Ok maybe the pumpkin pie, but the sweet potatoes are pretty much just as important. I must have a thing for orangey beta-carotene filled goodies. Because who doesn't love a dessert that is actually a dose of vegetables and vitamins?!
Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

4 large sweet potatoes, pealed and chopped in chunks
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
1 cup of non-dairy milk: I use coconut or hemp
1 TB of pure vanilla
1/3 cup of warmed coconut oil
4 eggs (to veganize use 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 ts. of sea salt

either 1 1/2 cup of oats, quinoa flakes or crushed GF rice or corn cereal (like either flakes or chex-like)
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup of warmed coconut oil
1/2 cup of either pecans or raw sunflower seeds

Peel and chop 4 large sweet potatoes and put them in a large pot and just cover with water. Boil for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are fork soft and then drain and put back in the pot. 
Then, add all of the other non-topping ingredients and whisk with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes on high power. Until the mixtures is fully mixed and there is a bit of a whipped appearance. 
Then pour the batter into 1 9x13 pan or 2 9x9 pans. I made two small pans. One to be nut-free and the other would have the pecan topping. Then, in another small bowl mix the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the sweet potato batter.
You can at this point put in the fridge to bake off at the later dinner time or if you are making this day of, you can put in the oven covered with foil for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, and then take off the foil for the topping to get a little crispy for another 15 minutes. Total 40 minutes baking to make sure the whole pan is bubbling hot and baked to perfection. 
Here (above) is a picture of my rice cereal and pecan mix topping. The picture below is of a oat and sunflower seed topping. You may want to add some spice to this dish with some cinnamon or orange. But let me tell you, there is something very simple and special about sweet potatoes, vanilla and coconut oil and sugar. Oh not to mention the maple syrup! Super simple and buttery-delish dish.
Obviously, I make this simple treat for Thanksgiving, and sometimes Christmas, but really you don't have to just have this during the holidays. It would actually make a superb breakfast and you could have it all week long to warm up every morning if you so desired. It is a great way to add some veggies to your morning oats and fiber.
I will be bringing my pecan-topped one for the big day, but I have been enjoying the oats and sun seeds this week to get excited for Thanksgiving food. It is so fabulous...but of course I have raved about my love for sweet potatoes long enough. So just make sure you don't forget them for the big feast.
This is supposed to be a side dish, but could easily just be part of the dessert table as well. It is best warm from the oven, but is so good and simple that it would be just as wonderful cooled down as well.

I hope you enjoy and try this simple (way too simple) recipe out, even if it is next week with some of the leftover (on sale) sweet potatoes you have lingering in the pantry.

I want to also share some of my other most favorite Thanksgiving dishes below...ENJOY!
And many Thanksgiving Blessings to you and yours.

Thanksgiving Menu Ideas
(gluten-free, dairy-free soy-free)
(mostly egg and nut-free as well)

Locally Raised Fresh Turkey and Gravy

Creamy Whipped Mashed Potatoes (vegan)
8-10 pounds of Yukon Potatoes pealed and roughly chopped
boiled in a large pot of water until extra soft
drained in strainer and then put back in large pot
with a hand-held mixer blend hot potatoes
with vegetable broth and Earth Balance soy-free
sprinkle sea salt and black pepper to you taste
using an "egg-white" whisk in the mixer will make it extra creamy
you can add finely chopped herbs or other spice to your taste...

*I am actually going to try a variation of a Martha Stewart Stuffing recipe with my oat baguette bread this year. I will post if all goes well in time for a Christmas dinner feast*

Some of my other Thanksgiving-worthy recipes 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Soft and Chewy Oat Baguette Bread

This bread recipe comes just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. I have been making this loaf almost every day for the last few weeks. It's my new favorite bread and perfect for almost anything you would use bread for. Soups, stews, salads, sandwiches, breakfast, toast, and butter and jam. Perfect...healthy... gluten-free bread!
It is soft and chewy, but with a hard crust and well, it's perfect. It is also very simple to make with very simple ingredients. It can be made within an hour with no trouble in waiting for the yeast or any other complicated step that homemade bread may require.
And with no yeast, sugar, eggs, wheat, gluten, soy or nuts, this just may be the friendliest allergy-free bread I have ever made. I am totally hooked.
 Soft and Chewy Oat Baguette Bread 
{gluten, dairy, egg, nut and sugar free}

3 TB of psyllium husk powder (must be powder, not seed or husk)
1 cup of pure water
1 cup of non dairy milk (I use unsweetened hemp or coconut)
2 TB of apple cider vinegar
2 TB of raw honey
2 TB of olive oil

2 cups of finely ground fresh GF oat flour {start with adding 1 1/2 cups for dough then add 1/4-1/2 cup more flour for kneading and firming up and dusting tops before baking
(grind 2 cups GF rolled oats in high powered blender)
1 cup of brown or white rice flour or sweet sorghum flour

1 ts. of sea salt
2 ts. aluminum free baking powder (I use Hain brand)
1 ts. of baking soda

You may need 1/4-1/2 cup more of flour (rice or oat) to knead and get less sticky

optional: sprinkle to 1/4 cup extra rolled oats for topping

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the psyllium husk powder, water, milk and apple cider vinegar together. It will turn into a thickened blob in a few minutes, then whisk in the oil and honey in together. *You can sub the honey for maple syrup if you are a strict vegan* 

Then, add all of the dry ingredients. Start with 1 1/2 cup oat flour and 1 cup rice flour and see how it feels, if it is sticky add 1/4 cup more oat flour until the dough is firm. Mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until all of the flour is blended, but be careful to not over mix and make it too clumpy.  

It will be spongy and you can dump the dough on a parchment paper and roll out with your hands with a little kneading as well, until you get the loaf the size you want. Don't be afraid to use extra rice or out flour to roll out if it is still sticky and not moldable.  Try and roll out a 12-15 inch loaf and roll out as many creases as you can. 

Then finally pat the loaf with a drop of water and sprinkle the oats on the loaf. The water helps the oats stick while baking. Then put in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes, but can last for 60 minutes if you want a thicker crust.

Pull from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before cutting into. This will be hard for you because this bread makes your kitchen smell heavenly!
Seriously, this bread smells like bakery heaven. And it comes out looking like you a pro baker who has been slaving away all day to make one perfect loaf! Surprise, totally the opposite!
Then, take that first bite and it will be hard to not want another slice. The bread is known as 'soup bread' by my son because it has made soup at dinner time way more interesting to him. It is a great dipping, NO CRUMBLING, gluten free bread. Go ahead, friends, try it out and ENJOY!

Much love to you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sweet Potato Quinoa Nuggets

Another sweet potato treat. These nuggets are perfect for a half pint's dinner, or let's be honest, they are perfect for two full grown adults to share as a snack, dinner or fun appetizer too. Super simple ingredients and full of nutrition, protein and flavor. Healthy food doesn't have to be hard to swallow and eating crappy processed food shouldn't be a crutch to fall on. 
Friends, you deserve to feed your life goodness. Yes, I am referring to food, but also all forms of life, hope and good. Your body and life will give back to you what you put in it and if you are feeding it processed crap, then what do you expect?!
So choose life and goodness today. And whip some of these sweet and crunchy sweet potato nuggets to spice it up a bit. This dish could also be a fun finger food at any holiday party. Or perhaps a great addition to any game-day spread. You can serve with your favorite aolli, ketchup, BBQ, or even a Greek yogurt (or vegan alternative). I mixed up some veganaise, organic ketchup and a dash of chili powder to my serving plate. I love sweet potatoes with a little kick of spice. 
Sweet Potato Quinoa Nuggets Recipe
{gluten, dairy, nut and egg-free, vegan}

2 cups pre-cooked quinoa (cook 1 cup dry quinoa and with 2 cups veggie broth for added flavor)
3 cups of pre-baked sweet potato mash (bake 2-3 small sweet potatoes in foil at 350 degrees for 1 hour)
1 cup of garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional: added for flavor only)
2 TB of olive oil
1 ts. of each paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, tumeric, cumin, sea salt and black pepper
1/2 - 1 cup of finely chopped kale
2-3 TB of finely chopped fresh cilantro
Mix all of the above ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. 
The 'dough' will almost be like a sticky cookie dough. Then form small TB sized patties in your hands and  place the nuggets on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Drizzle the nuggets with olive oil and even press down with a measuring cup to help them flatten and have a flatter or more even surface.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. You can flip them half way if you want them to have even crispy sides. This recipe should make about 35-40 nuggets depending on how big you make them.

They come out crispy on the outside and chewy soft in the middle. Serve with your favorite dips: ketchup, BBQ, vegan mayo, mustard, plain or Greek yogurt....the list can go on....
Kids will love these finger foods too. Just make it fun for them to dip them in a yummy sauce or yogurt. Or have them help you mix up the batter and get their hands dirty too. That is the one thing that I have found with my picky 3 year old eater is that if he helps make it there is a higher chance we will actually eat it too! And even if you don't have any little ones to share this with, I hope you try these nutritious treats out and have fun too!

Much love and ENJOY!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweet Potato Gnocchi (gluten and dairy free)

Tis the season for sweet potatoes. They are on sale at your local market. You can buy them jumbo, small, organic, or conventional. Most all are on sale this month for the big day in two weeks...yes, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. Let's just say, I have been known to stock pile sweet potatoes in November. They are just so loving and beautiful. I mean...it's a vegetable...and it's sweet too. Well, without shame I have bought many pounds again this season and have a few sweet potato recipes up my sleeve. This one is more than perfect for a cold fall evening at home.
Homemade gnocchi is a favorite comfort food around here. A family favorite for sure. I even call my son my gnocchi, translation: potato dumpling. And, my husband says kind things about my cooking and baking most days of the week. But this dish....it gets an extra whomping of compliments. And that of course makes me want to make it again and again. For my man. But also because it is so darn delicious. And it makes me feel like I am some kinda Italian momma with a special ingredient to never be shared outside "the family". And yet, here I share it with you ;)
Pretty simple too. Only a few ingredients. And I have a few step by step pics to help you out too. So roll up your sleeves and get your apron on...this one's gunna get your hands and counters dirty!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi Recipe
{gluten and dairy free}

2 cups of baked sweet potato mash
3 farm fresh eggs
1 1/2 cup (plus another 1/2 cup for dusting and cutting, so 2 cups total) of all purpose GF flour*
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of garlic powder
1/2 ts. of black pepper
1 ts. of Italian herb seasoning (or 1 TB of fresh chopped sage)

*Flour notes:
I used a favorite Namaste brand- bought from Costco on a special 5lb bag for 9 dollars deal. BARGAIN! Super easy to have around if you need a GF flour to fall back on or even just get special for the holiday treats and baking going to happen this season. Go check it out if you are a Costco member like me. 

If you don't have a favorite all-purpose GF flour on hand, then mix up 2 cups of flour using: 
2/3 cup of each 
brown rice flour 
potato or tapioca starch
and then lastly either millet or sorghum flour 

That mix should just about do it perfectly for this recipe.

First step: Bake 1 jumbo or 2-3 small sweet potatoes in the oven, wrapped in foil, at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 90 minutes to get super soft and buttery. Then, let it cool to almost room temperature and cut and scoop out the sweet potato insides to add to a large mixing bowl.
Second step: Add all of the above recipe ingredients. Only 1 1/2 cup of the flour and save 1/2 cup of flour for your cutting board.
Here is the picture of my super big bag of Namaste GF flour from Costco. I like having it around for recipes just like this one. Or as a sub for most "normal" recipes that call for all-purpose flour.
Step three: Take a wood spoon and mix all the ingredients together, but not too well as to make it too soft. Then cover a counter top with a large piece of parchment, dust the paper with 1/2 cup flour and plop out the dough and pat down into a large square or oval. Then cut into 4 close to equal parts.
Step four: Take each section and roll out the corner of dough into a large log. Like 12- 15 inches long and 1 inch thick. Take a pastry knife or clean blade knife and cut 1 inch thick pillows from your dough log. Then roll with a gnocchi paddle or a fork can work too. Or just forget it being "fancy" and go all rustic and messy look.
Each piece should be separated and ready for dropping into a pot of boiling salted waters.
Step five: Boil a large pan or pot of sea salted water and drop the dough pillow or logs into the boiling water. After hanging out in water for a few minutes they will float to the top and you will having floating gnocchi ready to put out.
Use a pasta ladle with holes to drain water and pull gnocchi from the pot. Lay on a dry sheet pan or plate for drying.
Then lastly, serve with your favorite marinara sauce topped over lightly or drench the gnocchi in a bowl with lots of yummy sauce to lick up. You can also fry the finished gnocchi in some brown butter and sage if you prefer.
If you want to make it easy. Serve it with a saved canned jar of marinara or a store bought favorite for this occasion.
Serve and enjoy! This recipe is enough for 4 adult servings. Easily doubled and can be frozen as well.

Hope you enjoy! Serve with a side of greens or salad and you have yourself one great meal. One to comfort and warm you after a long cold day.

Much love to you! xoxo