Category Archives: GFCF Recipes

Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries (GFCF recipe)

I’ll admit it:  In this age of expert home food stylists and Pinterest beauty, I’m hesitant to post new recipes.  I snapped a pic of this with my phone, not my Nikon SLR (I don’t own a Nikon SLR or any other fancy camera).  It’s not gorgeous.  But, it is SO VERY delicious that I had to share.  And, it’s just in time for Thanksgiving.  Hopefully, it will become a wintertime staple in your home, as my family has proclaimed it must be in mine.

IMG_20131011_193938_996

This recipe calls for a 2½ lb butternut squash, but you can use any orange-fleshed winter squash:  baking/pie pumpkin;  Hubbard;  Delicata;  Kabocha; Red Kuri, and others.  Personally, I wouldn’t use acorn squash or spaghetti squash.  But, just about any other variety would do wonderfully.  You can even substitute yam.  You may also use MORE than 2½ lb.  You could use up to four pounds of squash without tampering with any of the other ingredients.

I implore you not to substitute any other ingredients.  This perhaps may seem like an odd mishmash of ingredients, but when it comes together, it’s perfect:  savory, sweet, a bit spicy, warm, bright, FRESH.  However, if you do find any subs that work beautifully, do return and comment here!

Also, recent research has shown that it’s more important than ever to buy organic winter squash!

Winter squash is a vegetable that might be especially important for us to purchase organic. Recent agricultural trials have shown that winter squash can be an effective intercrop for use in remediation of contaminated soils. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including pyrene, fluoranthene, chrysene, benzo(a)anthracene and benzo(a)pyrene are unwanted contaminants. PAHs are among the contaminants that can be effectively pulled up out of the soil by winter squash plants. When winter squash is planted as a food crop (as opposed to a non-food crop that is being planted between food crop seasons to help improve soil quality), the farmer’s goal is definitely not to transfer soil contaminants like PAHs up into the food. But some of that transfer seems likely to happen, given the effectiveness of winter squash in mobilizing contaminants like PAHs from the soil. For this reason, you may want to make a special point of purchasing certified organic winter squash. Soils used for the growing of in certified organic foods are far less likely to containundesirable levels of contaminants like PAHs.  ~from The World’s Healthiest Foods

In other words, squash does an excellent job of decontaminating the soil:  It pulls contaminants from the soil as it grows.  However, where do those contaminants go??  Very likely INTO the food you’re eating.  You can wash the outside of a conventional squash, or peel it.  But, you can’t wash the flesh of the pesticides and other contaminants that the growing plant has pulled from the ground.

Click here for a simplified, printable PDF version of this recipe.

Butternut Squash with Apples and Cranberries
makes 12 servings

  • 12 oz nitrate-free bacon, chopped
  • 3 oz shallots, sliced thinly (about two large cloves)
  • 2½ lb organic butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and diced into ¾” cubes
  • 4 small Granny Smith apples (or other tart apple), cored, peeled, and diced small
  • 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries (you can use unsweetened just as well)
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh sage (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1½ tsp ground allspice
  • zest of one lime
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat, cook chopped bacon and sliced shallots, stirring often, until bacon is crisp.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Do not drain.
  3. In a large, heat-proof bowl (such as a glass or ceramic bowl), toss together the diced squash, diced apples, dried cranberries, minced fresh sage, sea salt, allspice, lime zest, and white pepper.
  4. Scrape the bacon, shallots, and rendered bacon fat over the squash mixture and toss to mix well.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish (or two medium-sized ones), and spread evenly.
  6. Cover tightly and bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring once, or until the squash is tender.
  7. Garnish with additional chopped sage (or Italian parsley, cilantro, or other pretty green).
  8. Serve hot.

 

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Things around my home (NOT baby-related — mostly) this last week.

  • When I roast beets, I don’t trim them quite as much as the linked-to instructions. I trim the roots just a bit, and leave 1/2″ of the tops on. I put about 1/2″ water in the dish, and cover tightly with aluminum foil, then roast at 425 degrees for 30-45 minutes, and leave in the oven for about another hour. Then, I cool them at room temperature, and slip the skins off under running tap water.

    When I make a dish for the family to eat, it’s always my hope that EVERYONE will like it.  Something that all seven people at the dinner table will adore has proven rather elusive, however.  I now see this as a good thing, mostly.  For instance:  I made sauerkraut earlier this week, and it is done fermenting today.  My 13-year-old son has been highly anticipating its readiness, and is already preparing his sandwich in his mind.  He mentioned that he wishes we had ham, but we don’t.  So, he’ll have turkey, mustard, and sauerkraut.  Not everyone else is so excited.  🙂 But, other family members are expectant of different foods.  I am roasting six bunches of small beets right now.  My three youngest children are REALLY excited about that.  I have received beets a number of times these last few months from our CSA and only ONCE have the beets actually made it into a dish.  The rest of the time, after I roast the beets, peeling them becomes somewhat of a party, with everyone popping cooled, newly-peeled baby beets into their mouths, just like candy.  I can’t say that I’m disappointed that not everyone feels this way about beets.  My husband can’t stand them.  My older two boys are rather ambivalent.  The rest of us ADORE beets.

  • Martin in the insulation suitOur new home is an older one, and it is an endless project.  We knew it needed more insulation, as some of it was missing in wide swaths, some was thin and compacted, and some of it had shrunk away from ceiling joists and the outer walls.  When we got our electricity bill for the time spanning from mid-April to mid-May, and the stinkin’ thing was north of $350 (and that is with our air conditioner thermostat set at 80-81°), that was a wake-up call.  Last weekend, my husband Martin, after quite a bit of research (wet-blown cellulose?  dry-blown fiberglass?  fiberglass batts?  do-it-yourself?  or hire it out??) he decided to do dry-blown fiberglass, which requires a big machine.  The blowing machine is rentable from Home Depot, or free with the purchase of enough packages of insulation.  It was quite an undertaking.  He purchased a head-to-toe coverall, and with goggles, mask, and gloves, ventured up into the attic.  Actually, we have two attics, as part of our home is single-level, and part of it has two stories.  It was hours of work.  Our oldest son, Ethan, stayed at the ladder and fed the tube up into the attic as needed, and relayed hollered messages to our next-oldest son, Grant, who was feeding the batts into the blowing machine and turning it off and on as needed.  At Home Depot, they supplied a cardboard measurement stick, telling us how deeply the insulation needed to be to supply a certain R-value.  “How deep does it need to be again to reach R-38?” he asked Grant.  “Thirteen inches,” Grant replied.  “Good.  We have about R-100 in most places,” Martin announced with satisfaction.
  • The one we have is the 2011 model of this same washer — very similar. We purchased it in July 2012 at a place which sells “new-old stock” and I’m *REALLY* pleased that we decided to purchase from there, as it came with the manufacturer’s warranty, rather than the scratch-and-dent place we’d been considering, which was less expensive, but with no warranty.

    In the above pic, you can see a bit of the washing machine, with which I have a love-hate relationship.  It is an LG, and when it works, it works WONDERFULLY.  However, yesterday, we had the LG repairman out for the SEVENTH TIME in less than a year.  Seven times.  Granted, his visit on Friday was a follow-up from Tuesday’s assessment, and he was installing the parts that he had ordered on Tuesday.  And two of the previous visits were — umm… — due to user error, as a quarter coin had slipped into the wash undetected, and had lodged in such a way that it was keeping the drum from agitating.  BUT, this washing machine was the most expensive purchase my husband and I had ever made, barring cars and houses, in our 18 years of marriage, and frankly, I didn’t expect the thing to be a lemon.  Or, I don’t know if it’s a lemon, exactly, but it just doesn’t seem that such a high-tech and expensive item should continually require repairs.  So now, we are considering purchasing an extended warranty.  I have kind of a moral objection to extended warranties.  My thoughts are, “BUILD IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND AN EXTENDED WARRANTY ISN’T NECESSARY!!!”  And yes, this is said while shouting.  I’m also kind of upset, because, before purchasing this unit, I did a lot of research to find the right product for our lots-o’-laundry family.  This washer had glowing reviews and was universally touted as a heavy-duty, GIANT-capacity washer with few problems, certainly less problematic than a front-loader.  However, the LG guy has been refreshingly honest with some information that I wish I had access to before I purchased.  He has mentioned that, while the unit is power- and water-efficient, it actually runs better on the cycles which use more water (mostly the “Bulky/Bedding” setting).  Also, the heating element in the washing machine, which allows the water to heat up super-hot (in the “Sanitary” cycle) especially for whites and cloth diapers, isn’t particularly powerful, and it takes a LONG time to actually heat the water.  In the meantime, as I had observed, the washer just slowly spins, waiting and waiting and waiting for the water to heat, automatically adding MORE time to a cycle that is already THREE HOURS long.  I guess I’m not the only LG customer who feels rather crabby about this, because just last night, I saw an ad for a new LG washer that heats up super-hot, but has an incredibly short cycle time.  Hmph.

  • Another thing I had wanted to add to our home is a clothesline.  In our last home, the HOA forbade them.  Even in the back yard.  This house has no HOA and plenty of space.  However, my husband wants to do the clothesline “right”, on its own separate poles, sunk in concrete, on the side of the yard, out of sight.  But… that has been added to the very long list of to-dos, here in the house, and we have now been here ten months with no clothesline.  So, last weekend, I procured four eye bolts and screwed them right into two trees in our back yard, and strung up some perfect nylon rope, handily left in the shed by the previous occupants.  Voila!  Clothesline.  So, for a little more than a week now, I have been hanging up about 95% of our family’s laundry — everything except my husband’s clothes and the bath towels.  Our handy new LG dryer (with which we have had no problems) has a great moisture sensor, and the few items from each load that go into the dryer are completed in about 20-25 minutes, instead of the 50-60 minutes each load was previously taking.  A friend on Facebook (well, she’s a friend in real life, but she mentioned this on Facebook) said that she finds hanging clothes to be “meditative.”  I didn’t quite understand her at the time, but now I do.  I bring out a glass of ice water, put my basket of wet clothes on a chair, and actually enjoy the quiet efficiency of hanging clothes.  I’m outside (which I love anyway); the sun is shining on me; it’s a gentle form of manual labor; I feel like I’m…. benefiting our family by saving money on power that would otherwise be spent on the electric dryer; it feels satisfying to provide my family with freshly sun-warmed and sanitized laundry; and it just feels RIGHT to be using the plentiful solar energy here in the desert to dry my clothes.  Even when the day is hot (though I typically hang the clothes in the morning or evening), I have my ice water, and when I stand between the lines of damp clothes, the breeze cools and refreshes me…  It is, indeed, a meditative activity.

    My clothesline

     

  • This week's produce.  We had a selection of summer squash, Armenian cucumber, red potatoes, Swiss chard, arugula, baby sweet onions, heirloom tomatoes, and beets!

    This week’s produce. We had a selection of summer squash, Armenian cucumber, red potatoes, Swiss chard, arugula, baby sweet onions, heirloom tomatoes, and beets!

    With the Crooked Sky Farms CSA I host, I feel like we have a good plan for what’s going to happen when the baby comes.  The sixth week of the summer season is on Wednesday, June 26, and the baby is due on the 27th.  And… the baby could come at any time, really.  I’ve been anywhere from 11 days early (twice!) to eight days past my estimated due date.  While there have been a number of people offer to help, the most promising person is, ironically, a woman with seven kids.  She hosts a raw milk pick-up (where I am a customer), so she is rather familiar with the ordeal of people coming to her house over the course of an afternoon and picking stuff up.  🙂  Also, she’s a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom whose oldest is 16.  Just like me!  She said that she would be happy to either come to my home and host the CSA for a day, or to even have it at her house.  So, the plan is that, if I have the baby on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, she will have the CSA in her home.  If I have the baby Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, I’ll probably just tuck myself upstairs with the baby and she will stay here for the afternoon, with my kids helping her.  If I have the baby on a Sunday, it could go either way.  That’s at least the plan.  Another woman, who participated in the spring CSA season, sent me an e-mail yesterday saying that she would like to help around the time the baby comes, if need be.  I was quite touched by her thoughtfulness.  She isn’t participating during the summer because she has her own garden which is being very productive right now — no need to pay $20 for organic veggies if you grow an abundance of your own!  I sent her a reply sketching out the basic plan, and asked if she’d like to be back-up, or perhaps be the host (as her home is much closer to mine, and would be less of a deviation from the regular plan for the other CSA members).  Anyway.  It just feels nice to know that things are taken care of, and that people are kindly offering to help out.  🙂  I feel surrounded by wonderful folks.

  • We’re almost done with school.  Kind of.  Three of my kids will be finished on June 7th, in less than a week!  My oldest, who is a sophomore, won’t be done.  He got himself behind and will likely be playing catch-up until the end of June.  I’m rather displeased with that because, as a homeschooling mom, if he isn’t done, that means that I am not done!  But, as he is a sophomore, we can’t just say, “Ah, well.  We’ll come back ’round to it in the fall.”  There aren’t really any do-overs once you’re in high school.  So, he’ll keep working until he’s finished with the year’s curriculum…  I will admit that I am very ready for summertime, and I’m very ready to focus on the baby.  Two weeks ago, I told my middle boys (8th grade and 6th grade) that they will finish the last three weeks of school primarily on their own.  Normally, I do about 60% of their work with them — reading to them, discussing assignments in depth, having conversations about the topics at hand, reviewing their work, etc.  But, in order to help me be able to have time to prep for the baby, I was straight-up with them:  “Listen, I know and you know that you learn better when we do school together.  Having an actual teacher helps you glean so much more out of the material than if you just cover it yourself.  However, you will be doing virtually all your remaining work for the year on your own, reading to yourself or reading to each other, because it’s either that or nothing.”  That is one of the benefits of homeschooling:  You can make it be flexible when you need to.  They would learn more if I was more highly involved, so I feel kind of badly.  But, three weeks of independent work within a 35-week school year won’t kill ’em, I guess.  It’s better than just stopping school.  That sounds like I’m setting the bar rather low.  Perhaps I am…  But, that’s what is necessary for these last few weeks of school.  🙂

Do you live in the north Glendale area of Arizona?  Are you looking for some weekly, inexpensive, naturally-grown produce to add to your health and palate???

The Crooked Sky Farms CSA is ON!!!!!   The cost is $20 per week for 12 weeks. We will start on February 13.  Pick up is at my house from 3:00 – 5:00 every Wednesday. Produce is Certified Naturally Grown, which has higher standards than USDA Organic and is more appropriate for small, direct-to-consumer farms. Pay in full in advance or half up-front (on or before February 13) and the other half midway through. Send me an e-mail at karenjoy@onlysometimesclever.com if you are interested and I will send you a contract and an info sheet later this week.  If you decide it is right for you and your family, let me know soon and I will add you to the list!!

Spicy Orange Chicken Recipe (Crockpot, GFCF)

I’ll admit it:  I crave junk food from time to time.  Lately, what has been haunting my wishful ponderings has been the sickly sweet orange chicken dish, found at “fast casual” Chinese restaurants, like Panda Express.  I last had Panda’s orange chicken more than ten years ago, and I still remember…  If there was a gluten-free version sold somewhere, I’d probably gobble it up.  So, perhaps it’s best for my sugar-intake that I haven’t found it anywhere.

A couple of days ago, a bloggy friend sent me a recipe for Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking.  Perhaps you’ve seen it;  it’s been making the rounds like wildfire, thanks to some fabulous pictures and Pinterest.  I looked at it and thought, “That is a LOT of honey.”  I buy semi-local honey, from The Honeyman in Prescott Valley, Arizona.  It’s raw, thick, and amazingly delicious.  It’s also expensive.  My thought was, “A cup of honey is worth roughly $2.75.”  I’m sorry, but that’s too much invested, honey-wise, into one recipe.

I also thought, “Two pounds of chicken?  That’s not going to feed my family.”  Along those lines, my friend Tina mentioned that she had doubled the chicken and the recipe had still turned out well.

Another thought:  “KETCHUP???  In an already sweet recipe??  Hmmm…  I’m not going to do that.  Tomato paste and apple cider vinegar would be better.”

Then, “Only a half cup of onion?  Crockpotted onions are amazing.  Needs more onion.”

And then, I looked in my freezer and saw a half container of orange juice concentrate that I keep specifically for cooking.  The gears in my brain, especially the ones marked Fiddling with Recipes, started whirring.

And the resulting recipe was so different than the original that, while I freely admit I used it as a launch pad, I thought I could probably safely call it a new recipe.

The resulting recipe was also AMAZING and TASTY.  When I sampled the first completed spoonful, I about melted.  So perfect.  So, so perfect.  Granted, it’s not as sweet as Panda’s orange chicken;  I think you’d need to throw in two or three cups of sugar to accomplish that.  However, it’s orangey-enough and sweet-enough to satisfy the cravings.  I was a bit afraid that it would be too spicy for my little girls, ages 4 and 6.  They made comment about the spiciness, but each of them simply picked up a cup of water and braved their way through, as the flavor was compelling enough to keep eating.  Everyone — all seven of us — really loved this recipe.  It received thumbs up and requests for me to make it again in the future.

One more recipe note:  You may notice that ½ teaspoon of citric acid is called for.  “Wha…?” may be your response and you may be tempted to omit it.  PLEASE DON’T.  Let’s call it the Secret Ingredient.  Citric acid enables you to taste the tang of the oranges.  It’s a must.  If you have a Sprouts in your area, you can find it in the bulk spice section for less than a dollar per ounce.  It can also be found in the canning section of any well-stocked grocery store.  Or, if you have a cheese-making store nearby, they will certainly stock it, as well.

OK.  One more recipe note:  The only mixed reviews were about the cooked orange peel in the recipe.  Some loved it, some picked them out.

Spicy Orange Chicken

Spicy Orange Chicken (Crockpot, GFCF)  In this pic, instead of green onion, chopped Italian parsley tops the dish.  I went to my veggie drawer which was inexplicably bare of the staple.  I did find some parsley, though, and it tasted fine and was pretty.  However, I do suggest you use green onion.

Click here for a printable PDF of the recipe.

Spicy Orange Chicken (Crockpot, Gluten-Free, Casein/Dairy-Free)
serves eight
Prep time:  About 10 minutes.
Cook time:  Four hours

8-10 fresh or thawed boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4-6 chicken breasts (3-3½ pounds)
sea salt and cracked pepper
one medium onion, chopped
½ cup honey
½ cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup gluten-free soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste — 1 tsp will make it noticeably spicy but not HOT)
1 small orange, divided use
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 lb.)
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
5 tsp corn starch
1/3 cup water
½ tsp citric acid
2 tsp sesame seeds
3 green onions (scallions) chopped
2 cups uncooked brown rice
4 cups water

Cut chicken pieces in half, lightly season with salt and pepper, and place in the bottom of a Crockpot.  Turn Crockpot on high.

Chop onion and place on top of the chicken.

In a glass bowl, gently heat honey in a microwave until thin.  (Alternately, you can place the container of honey in a pan of hot water until warmed through.)  Into the warmed honey, whisk the orange juice concentrate, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes.  Pour atop the chicken and onions.  Cover and cook on high for two hours.

Slice the orange in half, and slice each half very thinly.  Set aside half of the slices for garnish.  After the chicken has cooked for two hours, add the remaining slices to the simmering chicken, stirring to mix.  Turn Crockpot to LOW.  Cook for one hour.

After the chicken has cooked for an hour (for a total of three hours), the chicken should be very tender.  Break up the pieces, still in the Crockpot, with a wooden spoon.  In a small bowl, mix 1/3 cup water, the corn starch, and citric acid, combining well.  Stir into the simmering chicken, mixing well.  Then, stir in the chopped carrots and red bell pepper.

As brown rice needs to cook for about 45 minutes, start it now:  In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the brown rice and four cups of water.  Bring to boil, then cover and turn heat to low, simmering the brown rice for 45 minutes.

Continue to cook the chicken and veggies on low for an additional hour (a total of four hours), stirring occasionally, breaking up more chunks of chicken as you stir until you have a shredded consistency, as in the picture above.

Ladle shredded chicken, veggies, and sauce into a serving dish.  Garnish with the remaining orange slices, sesame seeds, and chopped green onion.  Serve over hot, cooked brown rice.

Enjoy!

Creamy Lemon-Honey Slaw Recipe

So, I’m hesitant to post any more recipes as there has been an explosion in foodie blogs with fabulously styled pics that people can post to Pinterest and drool over while they are inspired…

Here’s my pic to go with this recipe:

Fi and Daddy with slaw, cropped

Classy, eh??

You may just have to believe me that this is an excellent recipe.  I have five children, and it is challenging to find or create a recipe that EVERYONE loves.  However, all seven of us were fighting over who could have thirds of this.  (In the end, no one had thirds.  We saved enough for my husband to take to work with him the following day with his lunch.)  My six year old, Audrey, who is not a particular fan of cabbage said, “You know what makes the red bells and the carrots and the cabbage taste so delicious?  It’s the sauce.”  I thanked her for her excellent review, and decided that I would post this recipe, even without a Pinterest-friendly photo.

Indeed, “the sauce” is what makes this slaw taste wonderful.  It has a flavor that is classic enough to make it taste like “real” coleslaw, but healthy enough that you may never again return to sugar-laden slaw again…  I have made our slaw like this for years, with no regrets.

Click here for a printable PDF of the recipe

Creamy Lemon-Honey Slaw
serves 8

1 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 small-to-medium head of green cabbage, shredded
1/3 cup honey (preferably raw and local)
3 Tbsp organic lemon juice
2 tsp dijon mustard (I love Trader Joe’s!)
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup real mayonnaise (again, we use Trader Joe’s)

Into a glass container, measure the honey.  Warm (in either a pan of hot water or in the microwave) the honey so that it is thin.  While still warm, whisk in the lemon juice.  When incorporated, whisk in the dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.  When incorporated, whisk in the mayonnaise until the dressing is smooth.

Gently fold in the red bell pepper, carrots, and cabbage.

Enjoy!

Tomato Confit Sauce (GFCF, vegan)

Mmmm….

This is my favorite sauce.  Truly, I could just ladle it into my mouth with rude slurping sounds, but I usually restrain myself and put it ON something.  It works as a pasta sauce or a topping for steamed veggies, baked fish or chicken, or just about any meat.  Or tofu.  It would make tofu taste good, I’d bet, which is an admirable feat for any sauce!

You can serve it straight up, but since it is concentrated and PACKED with flavor, I will sometimes sauté chopped veggies on the side — zucchini or other summer squash, mushrooms, and red bell peppers are good choices — and stir it into the confit, with perhaps some canned (or fresh) diced tomatoes, to extend the sauce.  The result of this recipe is somewhere between a sauce and a condiment.  I think it would make a fabulous topping for bruschetta, and the other night, when I served this, my husband (who is much more keen on presentation than I am) said, “You could just make a schmear of this across a clean plate, and serve the fish on top of it.”  Good idea, especially as this highly-rated flounder recipe didn’t turn out quite as flavorful as I had imagined.

The ingredients are fairly flexible, depending on how much you have on hand, but here are the non-negotiables:  Tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves, fresh herbs, olive oil, and sea salt.  What transforms these usual suspects of the culinary arts is ROASTING them.

A reader, who is also a Facebook fan, suggested — oh, about a year ago, I think — that I try making “confit” from my tomatoes.  I had not enough to make paste from, but too many to just use in salads and sandwiches.  She said she got the idea from Martha Stewart, who does indeed have a Tomato Confit recipe.  However, I have tinkered and perfected, and now what I do hardly resembles the original, so I think it is transformed into something NEW, and even better.  Although I might hesitate to label this as a true confit — that is, I really do not know how long this would last, as a preserve — it still bears its confit roots.

The best part is:  IT IS SO EASY, and it makes your home smell like a pizzeria, without the actual pizza.  🙂  Speaking of, this sauce doubles as pizza sauce that is to die for!

So, here we go!

Tomato Confit Sauce

click here for printable PDF

makes about 3½ cups

  • 1½ – 2 lbs of fresh, ripe, small tomatoes.  Halve and remove the area around the stem, but no need to seed, peel, or core
  • 3-4 Tbsp fresh, finely-chopped herbs (I like rosemary and basil), divided
  • ½ large onion, cut in slivers (a regular brown or yellow onion would work best — something with some zip to it)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, halved
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • a generous pinch raw sugar
  1. As you prepare the ingredients, preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Into a 11″ x 7.5″ (or similarly-sized) glass or glazed stoneware baking dish, drizzle about 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the fresh herbs.
  3. Place tomatoes, cut side down, shoulder to shoulder in the baking dish.  They can overlap somewhat, but it’s best if they are all skin-side up, cut-side-down.
  4. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the rest of the herbs, the slivered onion, and garlic.  Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil, then sprinkle on the sea salt and very lightly sprinkle all with a pinch of sugar.
  5. Bake, covered with foil, in a 325°F oven for 45 minutes on a mid-to-low oven rack.  Then, remove the foil and continue to roast, uncovered, until everything is soft, and about half of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. It should look like this:
  7. Cool to room temperature (or until at least not-hot), and transfer all to a food processor or blender.  I use a Cuisinart Mini-Prep, and pulse back and forth on chop and grind (I have to do it in two batches, as the bowl doesn’t hold the whole recipe).  Process until the sauce is mostly-smooth, but not uniformly so.  You want to be able to see the flecks and small bits.
  8. Taste, and decide if it needs more salt or even some pepper (I’m not a big fan of black pepper), then restrain yourself from eating all that concentrated deliciousness, right there.
  9. Enjoy!

Cranberry-Almond Stickybread Recipe (GFCF, refined-sugar free)

Mmmm....

I came up with this recipe for a friend whose husband has been put on a really restrictive diet.  At first, I was disappointed, because my intention was to make a dough for rollable cinnamon rolls, but the dough was too wet so I had to glop it all in the baking dish.  My husband, however, vetoed my plans to rework the recipe.  “It’s perfect,” he proclaimed, stabbing his fork into the air as an exclamation.

Usually I make a recipe a number of times to work out the kinks… but after excellent results on the second time making it, I decided to go ahead and post the recipe.  I’m thinking I’m going to make this for Christmas morning.  I read up on Monkeybread, and I think the recipe would work in that style, too — in a Bundt pan, maybe even starting with frozen dough.  I’ll have to work on that, though.

This recipe uses no refined sugar:  honey and/or agave syrup are the only sweeteners.  I used egg whites, as my friend’s hubby can’t have yolks;  I think it would work without eggs entirely — if you try it without eggs, up the water content and leave a comment to let me know how it worked.  I used sweetened, dried cranberries, but any dried fruit would work (and would be necessary to make it truly sugar-free).  I used almonds, but pecans would work fine, too.

Last caveat:  The flours.  I use my favorite trio of gluten-free flours in this recipe, but you may find others that work just as well or better.  Post a comment if you alter the flours and let me know the result!

  • Garbanzo flour is made by Bob’s Red Mill, or you can find it in any Asian market as besan, chana dal, chickpea flour, or gram flour.  Expect to pay about $5-6 for a 4-pound bag of garbanzo flour at the Asian market.  My favorite brand is Brar, which is a product of Canada (and which used to be labeled as gluten-free and is no longer… though there isn’t any cross-contamination warning on it).
  • Mung bean starch is very common in Korean cooking;  most Asian markets are organized by nationality/region, so you’d find it on the Korean aisle.  Or Chinese.  I’ve purchased it from both.  It’s also known, cryptically, as green bean powder or green bean starch, since mung beans are small and green.  Mung bean starch is a bit pricey, at around $2.50 – 3.50 per pound in the store, and about double that online.
  • You can find gluten-free oat flour in many well-stocked grocery stores, or mill your own in a blender, sifting it through a wire sieve afterward.

 

Cranberry-Almond Stickybread (click for printable PDF)
About an hour and ten minutes from start to finish
Makes 15 servings

  • Grease a large baking dish (I use a 9″ x 13″ Pyrex, though size is flexible.  I also use Spectrum Organic non-hydrogenated Shortening to grease my pans.)
  • Turn on your oven to 350°F for only 2 minutes.  Turn off.  This provides a warm location for dough to rise.

1¾ cup warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
2 Tbsp honey

  • Gently combine water, yeast, and honey, and let sit (proof) for ten minutes

1½ cups garbanzo flour
1½ cups oat flour
1½ cups mung bean starch
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp xanthan gum

  • Whisk together these dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside.

4 egg whites

  • When the yeast mixture is done proofing, whisk in 4 egg whites, stirring briskly to combine.
  • Add the yeast and egg mixture to the flour mixture, whisking quickly and thoroughly to combine.  Set aside to rest about five minutes.

½ – ¾ cup honey OR agave syrup OR a combination of the two
2 tsp cinnamon

  • Warm the honey to liquefy using a microwave for 10-15 seconds, or setting the container in a pan of very warm water.
  • Stir briskly to combine the cinnamon with honey.

½ cup almond meal
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds (or other chopped nut)
½ cup sweetened, dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

  • Stir the dough, then with two spoons, drop spoonfuls of dough into the baking dish, using half to two-thirds of the dough.
  • Drizzle about half of the honey-cinnamon mixture over the lumps of dough, then top with about 1/3 cup of the almond meal and all of the slivered almonds and dried cranberries.
  • Drop the remaining dough in small lumps over the first layer.  Drizzle with remaining honey mixture and sprinkle with remaining almond meal.
  • Place into slightly warm oven or other warm place and let rise for 20 minutes.
  • Remove baking dish, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and preheat oven to 375°F for about ten minutes, for a total rising time of 30 minutes.  Dough will have doubled in size (or just a little less-than-doubled).
  • Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until top no longer feels spongy when touched lightly, and top is a nice, golden brown, and honey is sizzling along the sides of the dish.
  • Cut into 15 servings.  Serve warm, with a side of dairy-free ice cream, or topped with whipped cream if you can have dairy.  (Tastes good cold, too, on the off-chance that there are leftovers.)

 

Thanksgiving family, friends & food; drooling over a seed catalog; a good/bad movie

  • So, Thanksgiving was awesome.  At one point, we had 21 people here —  some watching football, some snoozing, some chatting over coffee and pie, kids running around and playing,  spilling out into our courtyard, friends and family.  Perfect.
  • I made this recipe — Roasted Squash with Almonds and Cranberries — and it turned out so good.  I’m definitely making it again, and I probably won’t wait until Thanksgiving;  I LOVE root veggies.  I used parsnips, carrots, and butternut squash.  I baked it a little longer than recommended, and at 325°F because that’s just how it worked out with the other stuff that was in the oven at the time.  I made it about 1/3 bigger than suggested, and wished I had MORE.  Double recipe next time.  I also chose not to add the lemon zest at the end.  I guess I can’t make a recipe without messing with it.
  • On Thanksgiving, my mom gave me a seed catalog that she said would be right up my alley.  She was right.  Pinetree Garden Seeds is located in Maine, so many of their selections are for much cooler, wetter, more northerly climates than here in the sunny desert.  But, I can’t resist.  I’m making a list and hoping for the best.  They have all sorts of heirloom veggies, plus herbs for medicinal use and even plants for dying cloth.  Lots of other stuff, too…  I’ve been savoring the catalog, reading each description.  The seeds are really inexpensive, too.  So far, I have eight packets on my list, and the total is $10.30.  And their shipping is reasonable, too:  $3.95 for up to $19.99 in charges.  I have this book on companion planting, too:  Carrots Love Tomatoes.  ~sigh~  Makes me want to plant stuff.
  • The ones at Home Depot are the identical brand, but MUCH cheaper -- about half the price.

    I’ve been making my own cheapie windowsill seed starters for months:  You need a paper egg carton and a foam one.  Cut out the paper “egg cups” one at a time and place them in the tray of the foam one.  Fill each paper egg cup with seed starting soil, and place in your windowsill.  Absolutely free (except for the eggs!), but it’s easy to over-water (and thereby have water all over your windowsill), and they dry out really fast — no lid and all, and only 1-2 Tbsp of soil in each cup.  So… at Home Depot, I bit the bullet and purchased a ready-made flimsy, plastic, effective 24-plant windowsill “greenhouse” seed starter, complete with peat pellets that expand like crazy.  I now have lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower sprouts happily growing on my windowsill.  Bugs and birds seem to like lettuce and broccoli;  I haven’t had great success directly sowing them into the garden.  I haven’t tried cauli yet, but I figured if the birds like broccoli sprouts, they probably like cauli, as they’re in the same family…

  • Only (maybe) tangentially related to the above — just because we had wine at Thanksgiving — I wanted to mention that if anyone saw my little post on Facebook that said I was going to watch the documentary Blood into Wine and were interested, you may want to reconsider.  On one hand, the movie was REALLY interesting:  lots of wry humor, the fascinating process of growing and making wine in Arizona, and the relationship between the major characters (Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and Arizona winemaker and ecologist Eric Glomski).  I’m always interested in the… intersection of relationships.  Meaning, the events that conspire to bring two people of really diverse paths together.  I LOVE THAT.  I think of it all the time, and if you meet me in real life, one of the first things I will likely ask you is what brought you, here.  However, the movie was also full of f-bombs, sexual references, and way more all-out earth-worshiping religion than my husband was comfortable with.  I could have hung with the movie, compelled by the good parts and filtering out the other… but after an hour, my hubby asked that we turn it off.  And we did.

GFCF Turkey Stuffing (a sort-of recipe)

A friend just asked me for a recipe for stuffing. I don’t have one written down, but here’s what I do, and it is SO tasty.  I always get compliments on this stuffing, even from those who don’t have to be gluten-free:

  1. Cook up some quinoa.  Use 2 c. quinoa and about… three cups water, I believe. I always use less water than the package suggests. Set aside.
  2. Sautee lots of veggies: onions, garlic, mushrooms, celery, and sometimes other veggies, too, using a lot of olive oil (about 1/4 cup) and a fair bit of salt (1-2 tsp).  This is just a suggestion, but I would use a whole, chopped onion; 6-8 cloves minced garlic; 5-8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms; and 1-2 cups chopped celery.  Light-colored root veggies like rutabaga or carrots work well, too, as do cubed firm winter squash, like butternut.  Steam those veggies — 2 cups or so — on the stove or in the micro until half-cooked, and stir into the sauteed veggies.
  3. When the veggies are almost done, add minced fresh herbs (often, around Thanksgiving, you can find combo packages that have several herbs inside) like sage and thyme….  Use at least 3 Tbsp minced herbs.  Remove from heat.
  4. Then, combine quinoa with the veggies & herbs, and stuff that inside the turkey. You’ll probably have to lace up the turkey, because the quinoa stuffing falls out more easily than “normal” stuffing.
  5. For vegan stuffing, or for any stuffing that won’t fit into your turkey, bake in a well-greased bowl, covered, in a slow oven (325°).  Bake at least 90 minutes.
  6. Keeps well for a long time in a warm oven, until you’re ready to serve!

Super-Simple GFCF Wholegrain Sandwich Bread (vegan, rice-free, potato-free)

In nearly nine years of almost daily gluten-free baking — both my recipes and countless others’ — this is the closest to bread perfection I’ve ever achieved.

  • This recipe consistently produces a slicing bread that is fabulous right out of the oven.  Go ahead and slather butter (or your spread of choice) onto a fresh, steaming slice;  the bread does not gum up when trying to slice it when it’s still hot.  (For honest disclosure, if you want VERY THIN slices, like ¼” thick, it is best to wait until the bread cools.)
  • No more collapsed loaves!!  The bread rises great and only falls/shrinks a VERY SMALL bit during baking.
  • No more brick-like loaves:  The top is actually ROUNDED!
  • This recipe produces a nicely-browned, crusty, chewy crust.
  • The taste is excellent — no overwhelming, odd taste.  It’s subtle enough to use for both sweet and savory.  Yet, it’s complex enough to not taste bland or dull.
  • The texture is both sturdy and elastic:  It stands up to spreading, but does not readily fall apart whilst eating the sandwich.
  • The interior of the bread is moist (but never gummy), and not crumbly.
  • The bread is also great for toasting (though unlike many other g.f. loaves, does not require toasting).
  • It is 2/3 wholegrain, high in fiber, but is light in color.
  • This recipe also produces a bread that is higher in protein than most gluten-free breads, more equivalent to wheat-based bread.  The only starch used in this bread is mung bean starch (see the simple flour mixture recipe here), which is remarkably low-glycemic, due to its very high amylose content (32% amylose in mung bean starch, compared to 0.5% in corn starch).

Does this sound too good to be true??  Fair reader, it is not.  I have churned out dozens of these loaves in the last couple of weeks, and have yet to be disappointed (unless I veered from the recipe in order to tinker with it, unsuccessfully).

Rising dough. This is actually a large loaf; it rises even BETTER in a small loaf pan.

Finished loaf.

Sliced bread. I like the top a bit more rustic, like this. If you smooth your loaf out more thoroughly, prior to rising, the top of your loaf won't be quite as irregular.

I have not tried to freeze it;  we eat it too fast.  I’ve only eaten it when the bread is up to two days old, so I really don’t know how long it lasts, long-term.  If you make the bread and have any comments about preserving it, do let me know.

Another note:  This bread works best in a smaller loaf size.

Super-Simple GFCF Wholegrain Sandwich Bread

(click here for a simplified comment-free PDF of the recipe;  the following recipe is notated with suggestions)
Requires about 90 minutes’ time from start to finish.

  • 3¼ cups Simple Sandwich Bread Flour Mix
  • 1 tsp sea salt — not any less
  • 1¾ cup water, heated to 95° – 110° F
  • 1½ Tbsp granulated sugar (that is, 1 Tbsp + 1½ tsp)
  • scant Tbsp active dry yeast (that is, about 2¾ tsp)
  • 1½ Tbsp olive oil (that is, 1 Tbsp + 1½ tsp)
  • Spray olive oil, or about an additional ½ tsp
  1. In a glass or glazed pottery container, add sugar and yeast to the warm water.  Stir gently to moisten the yeast.  Set aside to proof for ten minutes.  At the end of 10 minutes, the mixture should have a fairly thick layer of small bubbles on top.
  2. Put the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.  Turn the oven on to preheat to 350°F for ONLY TWO MINUTES.  Turn off oven.
  3. Line a small loaf pan (4½” x 8½”) with nonstick foil.
  4. With a whisk, combine flour mix with salt.
  5. To the proofed yeast mixture, gently mix in 1½ Tbsp olive oil.  Add to flour and salt mixture.
  6. With a whisk, very quickly mix liquid mixture with flour mixture.  Whisk briskly until well-combined and mixture thickens.  You may still see some very small clumps.
  7. Set the bowl aside to rest for five minutes.  After five minutes, whisk again until smooth.  (Without the resting period and additional whisking, you will likely end up with small clumps of garbanzo flour in your finished loaf.)
  8. With a silicone spatula, turn batter into the lined loaf pan.  Tap the pan on countertop to help it settle.  Spray top of loaf with olive oil (alternately, lightly drizzle the loaf with oil).  Using a clean silicone spatula, pat and form the loaf until the batter is evenly distributed and slightly rounded.
  9. Set the pan in the (pre-warmed) oven, uncovered, and close the door.
  10. Let rise for 20 minutes, remove loaf.  Set aside, uncovered.  (If your home is really cold, place the rising loaf in a protected area, like inside the microwave.)  Turn oven up to 400°F and preheat for ten minutes.  Place loaf into heated oven, on a rack in the bottom third of the oven, bake at 400°F for 30 minutes until nicely browned.  (For an extra-brown, crusty crust, bake an additional 5 minutes.)
  11. After baking, immediately remove the loaf from the baking pan — place it on a cooling rack or a wooden cutting board.
  12. Enjoy!
  13. Store lightly covered on the countertop for up to two days.  Beyond 48 hours, refrigeration or freezing is recommended.

NOTES:

  • Using the prescribed Flour Mixture, which includes mung bean starch, is an absolute MUST for the bread’s success.  I have tried nearly countless variations of potato, tapioca, and/or corn starch, in addition to numerous other flours — two kinds of millet, sorghum, three kinds of rice flours, potato flour — and NOTHING works like the combination of mung bean starch, oat flour, and garbanzo flour to allow the loaf to rise, and to produce the finished texture of both the crust and the interior of the loaf.
  • Due to variances in humidity in both the air and in your flours, you may find that you need to increase or decrease the water used in the recipe.  If the loaf does not rise well, increase water by 1 Tbsp.  If it rises so much that it spills out of the pan and doesn’t hold a rounded shape well and/or if it caves in or flattens out a little either during or after baking, decrease water by 1 Tbsp.
  • I have tried this recipe using raw milk (both cow and goat) in lieu of water, and it just works best with water.  If you want to try milk, decrease the liquid by at least 1 Tbsp.  The milk will make the loaf brown even more;  keep a closer eye on the time.  It also lends to a more yellowish color in the interior of the loaf, the color of potato bread.)
  • If you want to use a large loaf pan, the bread simply won’t keep its loft as well while baking.  However, it still is a serviceable, tasty loaf.  Use 4¼ cups flour mix, 1½ tsp sea salt, 2¼ cups water, 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 T yeast.  Let rise and bake for an additional five minutes each.  All other instructions are identical.

If you try this loaf and have questions or comments — positive or negative — PLEASE comment below or e-mail me at karenjoy@onlysometimesclever.com.  I truly love feedback.

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