Saturday, October 30, 2010

Heartwarming Pumpkin Bread

I haven't posted since the middle of September! The months are quickly fading and so much has happened since my last post. As many of you know, we are now officially empty-nesters. Our home is quiet but clean. No more kids not picking up after themselves. There are days that I would trade the clean house to have them all home and hear their laughter again.

On October 3rd our daughter got engaged! We are now in the throws of planning a wedding for early April. Her fiance proposed in a rowboat with rose petals falling down, a scuba diver coming up out of the water with the ring, and a repeller coming down from the bridge above with champagne and roses. It was beautiful. We were hiding in the bushes on the shoreline taking pictures and video.

We've had a beautiful fall here on the Palouse. The leaves have changed a myriad of colors and Jack Frost has stayed away long enough for us to enjoy them. I love decorating my home for fall and filling the house with heartwarming aromas.

One of my favorite fall recipes is gluten free Pumpkin bread. I've messed with this recipe a bit and have come up with a great consistency for the batter. The bread turns out really good if you bake it in four mini loaf pans. They are easy to freeze and make great gifts in that small personal size. Enjoy!

Heartwarming GF Pumpkin Bread

1 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup oil
2 large eggs beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used Libby's)
1 1/2 cups Pamala's GF Baking Mix or other GF Baking Mix flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup millet flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

In a medium size bowl place brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin puree.

With beaters or a whisk, mix until well blended.

Add all remaining ingredients and incorporate in pumpkin mixture. 
The consistency should be similar to heavy cake batter.

Place batter in four mini loaf pans that have been 
sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes or 
until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a cooling rack before serving. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quinoa & Chickpea Salad with Feta & Herbs

As I packed up my youngest son's room this weekend preparing for his move to Seattle, I found myself lingering on the memories of his childhood. His little model airplane hanging in the corner of his room, school recognition awards line the wall, and a box of Legos remains tucked under his bed. He grew up, but in many ways, his room still reflects the passions of a little boy. I'm having a difficult time thinking of turning his room into a guest bedroom. For now it will remain a shrine to an era gone by. How quickly those years flew.

I called my mother and told her what a difficult time I was having letting go; my baby moving to Seattle to start his life without his parents. My mom was compassionate as she listened to me and then near the end of our conversation she said, "Honey, give it time. I love you and your siblings, but I wouldn't want you back home. You'll get use to it." I guess I will.

This I know, we've raised him well and he's ready for the world. It's time to let him soar.

Quinoa & Chickpea Salad with Feta & Herbs

Quinoa is a wonderful tiny grain that contains more protein than any other grain. It was a main staple for the Inca Indians dating back thousands of years. Known as the mother grain or super grain of the future, quinoa is gluten free and simple to make. Enjoy this light, delicious salad made with quinoa and chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans).

1 cup quinoa
1 (15 oz) can of chicken broth
1 (15 oz) can of low sodium chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 cup grape tomatoes sliced in half
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 scallions thinly chopped (stalks included)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

(Rinse quinoa in a cheese cloth or sieve until water runs clean.)

Place quinoa in a pan and add can of chicken broth. 

Bring to a boil and place a tight fitting lid over pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer 
for 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool.

Chop scallions, parsley, and basil. Slice tomatoes in half and set aside. 

When quinoa is completely cool add olive oil, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Add in chopped vegetables, feta cheese, chickpeas and herbs. 

Stir until well blended. Serve cold.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hiking around Mt. Rainier

There is nothing quite like the mountains. The clean air drawn deep into my lungs filled with the scent of pine brings about a sense of quiet relaxation. Twenty-six years ago my husband and I camped, just the two of us. We camped primitively back then; a small pup tent, sleeping bags and a few essentials to cook with. Now, a tent trailer that sleeps seven, but all beds empty except the one we laid our heads upon.  We talked of going back to the simplicity of just the tent, but the thought of sleeping on the ground again made us think twice.

We reminisced over camping with our kids. It is different than vacationing by hotel. Our kids learned how to chop wood for campfires, how to make roasting sticks from branches, how to look for edible berries and tracks of animals. We learned to play hours upon hours of card and dice games when the rain outside pattered hard upon our trailer. We enjoyed stories around the campfire and roasting smores. Oh the memories!

The beauty of Mt. Rainier is unsurpassed. 

We spent a day hiking on the Nachese Trail Loop. There 
are several beautiful high alpine lakes along the trail.

We stopped for lunch and the birds flocked around us 
hoping to receive a crumb or two from our sandwiches.
One decided to rest upon my boot looking for a handout.

Snow comes early to the mountains. We ended up cutting our Labor Day weekend short due to the forecast that predicted a 60% chance of snow. The day we left, the area we had hiked was so socked in with fog, you could barely see a few feet in front of you. We were grateful to have had the weather we did and look forward to our next visit.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Bit of a Whim

Life changes when you no longer have children to look after. On a bit of a whim, my husband and I decided to take an overnight trip to McCall on our motorcycle. We stopped at the bottom of White Bird Pass where the wilderness must still look similar to the days when the Nez Perce Indians fished for salmon along the rugged shoreline. The water remains swift and is a favorite for white water rafting. Though I've never done it, it is on my bucket list.

On our return trip the following day we ran into rain. We put on our rain gear (mine bright yellow) and I joked with my husband that I looked like a Chiquita banana riding on the back! At least on a very dreary day we were noticed on the road.

We stopped along the way to pick up what must have been the last of the large raspberries. I love the fresh produce this time of year, but it comes and goes much too quickly. Today's recipe is an all-time favorite; GF Blondies with a lemon-raspberry topping. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Blondies with 
Lemon-Raspberry Topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup GF favorite baking mix
3/4 cup white chocolate chips


4 Tbsp. butter softened
2 oz. cream cheese or Neufchatel (for 1/3 less fat)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. lemon flavored extract
1 pint raspberries

In a medium size bowl add butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and GF baking mix. 
Beat for five minutes with an electric mixer.

Add white chocolate chips and spread into a greased 6x9" or 8x8" baking dish.

Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Completely cool before adding lemon-raspberry topping.

Topping: In a small bowl, combine butter, 
cream cheese, powdered sugar & lemon flavoring.

Whip until well blended.

Spread over baked blondie and place raspberries on top.

Enjoy one of my favorite desserts! My husband has a hard time
staying away from these, even though they're gluten free!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Latte & GF Biscotti

There's nothing quite like the aroma of a good coffee house to lure me in. I love the smell of the beans and the sound of the espresso machine steaming up a large cap of foam. Not all coffee houses are the same; I've had good and bad. When you've had a bad cup it's not even worth drinking. If the pull is too long, the espresso will burn, leaving a very bitter aftertaste. If the milk is foamed too long, it will scald, producing another drink for the drain.

I decided to try my hand at making biscotti today. It turned out quite delicious. The secret to making biscotti is in the double baking. The word biscotti literally means double baked. The first entry in the oven bakes for approximately 25 minutes, then it cools for 10 minutes before it returns for the final baking, which produces a very crunchy bar for dipping into your latte or whatever style of coffee you prefer. This recipe I created is very easy; just like making a batch of cookies.

Orange-Cranberry Almond Biscotti Dipped in White Chocolate

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
2 cups of my favorite gluten free baking mix (recipe in GF flour blends) or you may use other GF mix
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cups white chocolate chips + 1 extra cup for melting & dipping
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Orange peel from 1 large organic orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl cream together butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and extract. 

Add GF flour mix, baking powder, salt and gently blend.

 Add slivered almonds, 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and the orange peel. Blend until just combined. 

Spray an 8x12" glass baking dish and pour mixture into it, spreading evenly. 

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let stand for ten minutes before slicing.

Slice 1 to 1 1/2" rows lengthwise and cut evenly three ways forming 18 bars.

Place parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and place each bar onto its side. Return to oven and bake on one side for five minutes, flip to other side of bar and cook five minutes longer.

In a double boiler pan, place the remaining 1 cup of white chocolate in the upper pan and melt.

Dip the bottom of each piece of biscotti into the white chocolate and place back on the parchment paper for cooling. Allow white chocolate to completely harden before serving. Store in an air-tight container.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Irony of a Gluten Free Gal

I find it ironic that I am gluten intolerant and am surrounded by wheat fields. This is a picture taken from my deck two days ago.

I love watching the combines maneuver the curves of the ripened fields but often wonder if the chaff in the air has any affect on my health. I have lived in the Palouse region for nearly 30 years and try my best to keep my windows closed tight during this season of harvest. My favorite time on the Palouse is shortly after the grain has emerged from the ground. A beautiful blanket of velvet green rolls softly over the hills. The early morning light casts gentle shadows creating an ocean of green rolling waves.

I tried creating a new recipe today using teff flour. It flopped. Not because of the teff,  but simply because my proportions were incorrect.  Baking gluten free is not for the faint hearted. Understanding some recipes will fail, having a sure-fire determination to not give up, and the willingness to venture into uncharted territory will eventually produce a good recipe. I will post a new bread recipe using teff flour, but it won't be today as I had hoped. Udi's makes a delicious gluten free bread using teff. I found it in my local co-op. I understand some Safeway stores carry it as well and Amazon carries a few of their products. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eating Out in Gluten Free Style

Tonight my husband took me out to dinner. As we sat perusing the menu, I looked at my options dwindling before my eyes. No to the pastas, no to the chicken over a bead of bread pudding, and the list went on. When the waitress came, I mentioned I had a gluten allergy and could she please inform me of what may be suitable to eat. She quickly mentioned a few dishes, but then added, "Our chef can fix you any of our pasta dishes with gluten free noodles." It was music to my ears! I enjoyed a wonderful gluten free Pasta Carbonara. If you are gluten free, stop in The Black Cypress for great atmosphere and wonderful food.

A few months back we were in Las Vegas for a convention and decided to have dinner at an Italian restaurant. Any of you who have been gluten free very long know that an Italian restaurant is about the worst type to try and find anything gluten free on the menu, but my husband loves Italian, and has had to pass by one too many a restaurant on my behalf. Once again I looked over the menu a little downcast, when my hubby suddenly pointed to the middle of the menu. In quotes it read: "All pasta dishes can be prepared with gluten free noodles." My eyes brightened and I was a much happier wife to have at the dinner table. When my dish arrived, I took a bite. It was so delicious, I did not believe it was gluten free. I asked my husband to try it. He wasn't even sure it was gluten free! The waiter must have overheard my concern because the head chef was at our table in no time. He informed me that they take all food allergies very serious. The table surface and all utensils are cleaned and sanitized before any preparation begins. He told me the type of gluten free pasta noodles used and assured me that indeed my dish was 100% gluten free. I was in gluten free heaven! If you ever visit Las Vegas, stop in at Maggiano's Little Italy for a fabulous gluten free dinner. Check out their website. They have a few other locations around the country.

My first taste of a gluten free blueberry muffin was in the hospital when I gave birth to our youngest son nineteen years ago. I remember how delicious it tasted. This recipe uses both raspberries and blueberries and is quite yummy warmed up in the morning with a dab of butter. Enjoy!

Picking raspberries in my garden

Berry Berry Good Muffins GF

1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
3/4 cup white cane sugar
1 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup milk, almond milk, or soy milk
6 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl add first five dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl add sugar, eggs, yogurt, milk, butter & vanilla.
Beat by hand or with a mixer for 3 minutes.


Pour mixture into flour bowl and mix to incorporate.


Batter should appear like heavy cake batter.


Add blueberries & raspberries.


Gently fold in.


Pour into greased muffin tins.


Bake in a 400 degree oven 17-20 minutes. 



Saturday, August 7, 2010

Morning at the Market

Our farmer's market must rank as one of the best in our region. I had my husband drag the camera along this morning so I could share it with you. Everything at the market is personally grown or crafted as I've mentioned in past blogs. But it is more than just the food and crafts that keeps me going back for more. 

Living in a relatively small town, you run into people you know on every corner, so a trip to the market is never quick. It's a time to catch up with old friends, make new acquaintances, enjoy the eclectic group of people from our community, and pick up a few fruits and veggies along the way.

I am always drawn to the flowers first. There are several vendors who pick fresh bouquets from their gardens. I have to peruse every stand before choosing.

Our next stop along the way is the Boothman's stand. 
Roger and Kristine are dear friends that go back to our 
college days. They travel 3 1/2 hours every weekend to 
bring their wares to the market. I've been told that Kristine
is a fabulous bread maker, but I have to take my husband's 
word on that, because she doesn't bake gluten free.

They also bring over delicious fruits and vegetables. 
Tonight we'll enjoy freshly cut sweet corn.

Another stop along the way we find
fresh carrots, potatoes, and garlic.

Music fills the air every Saturday morning with a different band. 
This morning we enjoyed the Hog Heaven Big Band.

At the end of our day I chose my prize bouquet!

And now I'll enjoy them for the week.