Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Candy

It's Halloween and let the trick-or-treating begin! My Doodle this year has decided to dress up as Moses. Moses, of all people, where does she come up with these ideas? She also informed me that I was going to be the burning bush and her dad needed to be the Red Sea - parted. Oh my!

Halloween presents its challenges when trying to eat gluten and dairy free - but we have learned to adapt. I was so pleased this year when Doodle's preschool teacher was kind enough to purchase a Gluten Free cake mix for the kids to bake cupcakes with. Her daycare was equally as kind by purchasing candy that Doodle could enjoy without feeling left out. I thought I would take a minute to share some of our favorite Halloween treats:

1. Skittles, skittles, skittles
2. Gummy worms
3. Fruit Snacks
4. Smarties
5. Dum Dum Suckers
6. Mary Jane's
7. Blow pop's

Candy we avoid:

1. Anything with chocolate
2. Tootsie rolls & Tootsie pops
3. Anything with Caramel

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkins, Glorious Pumpkins

One of the best parts of fall is the annual trip to the local pumpkin patch. We started this tradition in our family 3 years ago when we moved back to the Midwest. There's a local apple orchard that has a very large pumpkin patch. We enjoy taking a ride on the hay wagon down to the patch and combing through all of the pumpkins to find just the right pumpkin for each member of the family. This year, mine was a blue squash, and Doodle found a white pumpkin. When we started the tradition Doodle found a pumpkin just the right size for a 2 1/2 year old. She immediately named him "Charlie". Charlie went with her every where! When he started to rot, Grandpa tried to swap him out with a similar pumpkin. She waltzed in the room and immediately declared "Where's Charlie? That pumpkin is not Charlie." There was no fooling her. Last year she found Charlie the Second, who was accompanied by two small gourds whom she referred to as her new brothers "Jimmy and Jerry." Charlie and Jimmy are pictured above with Doodle at the orchard. Jerry lives to this day - Jimmy didn't survive through the winter last year.
This year's trip to the pumpkin patch was no exception and she has named her white pumpkin Charlie the Third.

In honor of Charlie the Pumpkin, I made Gluten Free Pumpkin muffins today. Here's the recipe.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups GF All Purpose Flour Blend
1/2 Cup Almond Flour (if you don't have almond flour, add 1/2 cup more to the GF all purpose flour)
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp ground Cloves
1 16 oz can Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1 tsp GF Vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins or spray with non-stick spray.

2. Blend together Sugar, Agave Nectar, and Eggs. Beat Well.

3. Add remaining ingredients and beat well - 1 to 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins and place in oven.

4. Cook for 20 -25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean. Cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

I added in the Almond Flour to this recipe because I like the extra protein it provides Doodle. You may not have almond flour in your pantry, so just substitute an equal amount of GF All Purpose Flour instead. We may find some Dairy Free cream cheese (i usually buy Tofutti brand) to make some Cream Cheese Frosting to top off the muffins, but I try to keep Doodle's exposure to soy at a minimum. The muffins taste great without the frosting, so I may skip it this time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fried Plantains

Finding good Plantains in the middle of nowhere is a rare treat for my family. Being that 3/4's of my family has some kind of Haitian blood in them, plantains are a favorite food among my crew. If you're not familiar with plantains, they are cousins of the banana and come with a thick, hard peel. They are typically about twice the size of a regular banana with the peel on and are much starchier than a banana. Unfortunately for me, most of the plantains carried at the local grocery store are often too ripe, almost rotting when I do my shopping. So, when we find the bright green variety at the store, I usually snap up the whole lot. Inevitably, the cashier will ask me what they are and how I prepare them. If done properly, they taste like a thick, crunchy potato chip. If your looking to try something new, fried plantains make a great side dish for dinner - especially with Jambalaya or Creole Pork. Here's the technique we use for perfect plantains.

Perfect Plantains

1-2 Green Plantains
1 Cup Oil (or enough to fill a deep fryer)
1 Cup Water
Sea Salt

1. Trim the ends off the plantain and peel. Peeling can be tough - use your knife to slice through the skin on both sides of the plantain. Then slide your finger underneath the skin and gradually work your way down the plantain. The skin should come off easily once started.

2. Slice plantain into 4-5 large chunks.

3. Heat oil in frying pan or deep fryer. Once oil is hot enough, place chunks in oil until light brown.

4. While plantains are frying, place water and salt in a bowl.

5. Remove plantain chunks from oil and place on a paper towel lined plate. Next, flatten each plantain chunk. I use to small pieces of wood which we received as a gift from my Haitian mother-in-law. You can also place the plantain between 2 sheets of wax paper and flatten with a can of beans (or whatever).

6. Dip plantain's in the salt water and place back in the hot oil until crispy and golden brown. About 2 minutes.

7. Remove from oil and serve.

We like to eat these plantains fresh out of the fryer. Occasionally, we will make some Au jus and serve on the side to dip the plantains in. My husband particularly likes this, but they are great straight from the fryer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Yellow Rice

My family is an avid consumer of rice. I'm not particularly fond of the dish, myself, but my husband and older daughter originally are from Haiti, so rice is a staple in our home. Doodle especially loves it when her daddy makes rice & beans with sardines. (Definitely NOT on my favorite list of foods!) To spice up regular rice, I often make yellow rice - it's simple, easy, and quick and makes the meal a little more interesting.

Yellow Rice

1 Cup White Rice
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Turmeric
1 1/2 Cups water
Salt to taste

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In an oven proof sauce pan over high heat, add Olive Oil and Turmeric. Add rice and cook for 1 minute on stove.

3. Add water. Bring to boil on stove. Cover.

4. Place rice in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until water is evaporated. Remove from oven and serve.

This rice will not be as moist as traditional white rice recipes. That's just the way we all like it. If it's too moist, most of my family will not eat it. Cooking in the oven allows for a shorter cooking time - perfect for a busy mom like myself.

GF Chicken Nuggets

One of the foods Doodle used to eat regularly was chicken nuggets, chicken fries, and chicken strips. Since we have gone gluten free, she has had to give that up. Until now! I have finally found a decent way to make gluten free chicken nuggets that can be done with not a lot of effort. I adapted this recipe from the August issue of Cuisine at Home (my favorite cooking magazine.) The version to the left is actually made with Pork, but tastes equally as good with chicken.

Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

1/2 to 3/4 cup GF All Purpose Flour
2 eggs
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 to 3/4 cup GF bread crumbs
2 thick boneless, skinless chicken breasts - sliced lengthwise in half
salt/pepper to taste
4 - 8 Tbsp Olive Oil

1. Whisk together eggs and dijon mustard in a small bowl.
2. On a large plate, pour GF all purpose flour. On a separate plate, pour the GF bread crumbs.
3. Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. With a mallet pound down the chicken breasts until about 1/8 inch thick. Salt & pepper the chicken breasts.
4. Dredge each chicken breast in the flour, then dip in egg mixture. Finally coat in GF bread crumbs.
5. In large frying pan heat olive oil. Once hot, place chicken in olive oil and fry until golden brown on both sides, turning as necessary.
6. Cut chicken into strips and serve.

Doodle especially likes this dish when I serve the nuggets with Honey as a dipping sauce. Pictured above I served the nuggets with my yellow rice and sauteed asparagus.