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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gluten free pumpkin spice mini cakes



I laid in bed this morning, just as the sun was coming up, listening to the tick-tick-tick of rain against the window and the lightly-high-pitched sound of rain draining through the downspout outside.  I have always felt grateful that I have a roof over my head, but now as a homeowner, I am keenly aware of how grateful I am to have a roof over my head that has relatively new shingles and gutters that are properly attached. 

I was thinking contentedly of this as I heard Ben, who got out of bed a few minutes before, in the kitchen feeding the cats.  I rolled over, turning towards the kitchen and listened to him talking with Dewey as he divided the wet food among three small plates (our attempt to make sure Dewey gets his fair share of breakfast). 

“Merrrr-ooowww!” cries Dewey.

“What’s that Dewey?  Little Jimmy fell into the well?”  I hear Ben say, intonating as if he lived in a Lassie movie.

“Rrrrr-ooowww?” is Dewey’s reply.

“Oh, we better hurry, huh boy?”

This morning’s rendition of cat-feeding-theater was particularly humorous and I enjoyed a satisfying giggle, laying there under the warm comforter, feeling happy, content, and fortunate.  I lingered there a pair of minutes more, but as soon as I heard Ben snap off the burner, pick up the pot of water and pour it into the French press, I knew it was time to get up.  Someone else making coffee is about the best reason ever to get up on Sunday morning.

We enjoyed our coffee, slowly, and talked about what we had on tap for the day.  Me?  Off to the artist’s market with a friend, bake pumpkin cakes, organize bills and paperwork, plant tulip bulbs (I hope I’m not too late!), and rake the yard (finally!).  Ben?  Off to get Christmas lights for outside, stain and seal the shoe rack he built, insulate the downstairs windows, clean the gutters, and fix the furnace filter.  To name a few. 

Needless to say, we were busy today. 

And, for those of you who are keeping track - after dinner, after we devoured our pumpkin-cake dessert, Ben asked, “Are you sure we can’t put up the Christmas tree tonight?”

I laughed.  Now he’s just pushing my buttons.

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and I hope you are surrounded by loved ones and lives for which you are all grateful.  I know I am.  

Pumpkin spice mini-cakes
These cakes are so moist and delicious!  I did them with chocolate chips, but you could throw in some pecans instead or maybe coconut ribbons. They would be great without any add-ins and maybe with vanilla, chocolate, or cream-cheese frosting. 

1 cup Sorghum flour
½ cup Tapioca flour
½ cup Millet flour
½ cup sweet white rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 ½ T baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground clove
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup butter, melted
½ cup “butter milk” (any milk + a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice – see note)

Optional add-ins:
1/3 to ½ cup chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, or anything else your little heart desires.

Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or grease with butter and rice flour.  Heat oven to 350F.

Mix dry ingredients and blend well.  Add pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, agave, butter, and “buttermilk.”  Stir to mix well. 

Spoon into muffin cups and smooth tops with the back side of a spoon if you wish (I usually fill a measuring cup with water and dip the spoon into the water so it doesn’t stick to the dough).


Bake for 20-25 minutes, until slightly golden brown.

Cool for a few minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Note:  to make “buttermilk,” pour a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice into a measuring cup and then add any kind of milk (hazelnut, coconut, almond, rice, regular moo cow, etc) to make ½ cup milk.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gluten free apple crisp

I have been wanting to share this recipe with you for almost a week. I’m home sick with what is likely the dreaded flu (H1N1), though it appears I have a very mild case. It feels like I slept for almost all of yesterday and then slept like a rock last night for about 12 hours. Today I feel almost normal. Hooray for that!


The cats have gotten some special mama time while I’ve been home, especially Rosie, who sleeps by my side always (when she’s not cruising the kitchen counters for kitchen scraps we forgot to clean up). And Zora and Dewey have been the Happiest Cats Ever, sleeping soundly on the new sofa bed we put in our recently-put-together television/guest room (we now have a television-free living room - it is awesome!).


Although I’ve shared another crisp recipe on this site, I am particularly pleased with how the topping on this turned out. I’m definitely a crisp-topping girl – don’t get me wrong, the fruit also needs to be delicious, but the topping is really what sells me on a fruit crisp of any kind. We ate this crisp for dessert last week… and breakfast Saturday morning!


Next week is Thanksgiving! I have felt behind all year on the seasons, but I’m taking the time this week to mentally prepare for the celebration of gratitude and the tradition of food that goes along with it. If you are having gluten free guests at your home, check out my post last year on cooking gluten free around the holidays. Also, don’t assume the turkey is gluten free – just like any other meat, if it has been pre-injected with sodium preparations or broths, it might not be gluten free.


By the way, if you live in the Portland, Oregon area, check out New Cascadia Traditional for gluten free pies, bread (for stuffing), rolls, and other delicious gluten free baked goods. They are accepting pre-orders for such things right now, so give them a call! If you are not in the Portland area, check out Whole Foods – they have a number of frozen gluten free pie shells, pre-made pies, scones, rolls, and many other gluten free baked goods in their bakery department. These certainly take the guesswork out of gluten free baking!


Next week also marks the start of the Christmas season and Ben’s long-awaited favorite time of year. Seriously, I had to make the rule that we don’t put up the tree until the day after Thanksgiving and he has been counting down the days. Soon our home will be filled with green and red and twinkling little lights! I am looking forward to a fire in the fireplace with stockings hanging from the mantle and a hot cup of apple-cinnamon tea!


Gluten free apple crisp


Filling:

3 medium-sized apples, sliced

2 tsp vanilla

2 tablespoons raw sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

dash of allspice

dash of nutmeg


Preheat oven to 375F.


Mix the above ingredients in an 8x8 baking dish (mix well to evenly distribute spices and sugar). Spread to evenly fill dish.


Topping:

1 cup gluten free oats

½ cup tapioca flour

¼ cup millet flour

¼ cup raw sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp nutmeg

1/3 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces

handful pecans or walnuts (optional)


Mix your oats, flours, spices, sugar, and nuts (optional) until well-blended. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Spoon over apples, evenly covering the fruit.


Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until topping is slightly golden.


Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sausage and apple-stuffed pumpkin

We have certainly settled into our new home, I thought, as I walked from the grocery store, down our street to our house. It feels like home. I know a place feels familiar when the automatic pilot turns on and leads me there without actual brain input. We have only been living here for about two and a half months and I wonder what it will feel like years from now. Five years from now? Ten?


I mentioned this to Ben that night after dinner and he smiled, with a look that said, “It could only be wonderful.” Christmases with a fire in the fireplace and stockings hanging on the mantle, evenings with friends eating good food and drinking good wine in the dining room, summers in the backyard garden tending to vegetables…we will see many of these in our new home over the coming years. Feeling settled, to know we will be here years from now, in this same house, is a feeling unfamiliar to both of us in recent years, but it indeed feels wonderful. Although we have what feels like an endless list of “things” we want to do in the house (install a fan in the bathroom, for example), we are certainly taking the time to savor and enjoy this part of our lives and anticipate all that is to come.


Right now, our street is littered with leaves, all of the leaves having fallen off the trees at the same time, or so it seems. We are preparing for our first winter season in our new home, and our first holiday season. (I broke down and bought a package of red apple-cinnamon-scented tea-lights a couple of weeks ago, despite my resolve to not indulge in Christmas things before Thanksgiving has passed. I blame Ben – he just gets so excited about Christmas! If it were up to him, our tree would be up in September.) I got a little nervous when I read we have a pumpkin shortage this year, on account of the spoiled fields out east, but I came across a large display of canned pumpkin at the grocery store this past weekend and a little voice inside my head cried, “hooray!” I know, I know, freshly roasted pumpkin tastes much better, but the canned stuff is pretty darn good and you can’t beat the convenience with a stick.


About this time last year, I made pumpkin scones and I have been waiting to find the canned pumpkin in the stores to make them again! I bought four cans. I am in pumpkin heaven. But maybe I should go to the store later tonight and get more…I think I have an obsession.


This doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking with whole pumpkins prior to this – au contraire! Well, you all know about the pumpkin soup I made for last month's Go Ahead Honey it’s Gluten Free round up. I also made stuffed pumpkins for dinner last week and got rave reviews from Ben. I certainly know what we will be eating each fall for the years to come!

Sausage and apple-stuffed pumpkin

1 small sugar pumpkin

2 sausages, sliced (I am digging Al Fresco’s roasted red pepper and asiago chicken sausage)

1 small apple, diced

½ cup pecan pieces

Butter

Real maple syrup


Wash and dry the pumpkin and stick it in the microwave for about a minute (this makes it a tad easier to cut). Remove the stem and slice in half. Scoop out the seeds (and save to roast later) and pulp.


Place pumpkin halves cut-side down in a baking dish with about ¼ inch of water and bake at 350 for 40 minutes to an hour (depending on the size of your pumpkins). Mine took about an hour – they should be really soft.


Remove pumpkins from the oven and turn them over in the dish so the cut side is now up. Place a couple small dots of butter inside the cavities and drizzle with maple syrup. Divide the sausage slices, diced apple, and pecans evenly between the two pumpkin halves. Fill each pumpkin half with the apple and sausage, then place the pecans on top. Drizzle a bit with more maple syrup, if desired.


Bake for an additional 20 minutes, until the pecans are good and toasty and you can’t stand the delicious smell any longer!

Enjoy!