Monday, April 28, 2008

"Quite possibly the best pancakes I have ever tasted"

During the week, I do some part time office work for my in-laws to earn some extra money and help them out with their home based business. My mother in law is usually home while I am working, so we are usually chatting about our latest recipe finds and food in general. Some days, more food gets made then work gets done :) The other day my mother in law found a recipe in our newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News for some great pancakes that neither of us could stop thinking about. The salad that we had made for lunch started out sounding good, but ended up being more of a disappointment as we continued to think about these pancakes.

Both of us ended up making them over the weekend--hers made following the recipe as she can have gluten, and mine with a few tweaks and changes to accommodate my diet. It was amazing to compare the two finished products...they looked and tasted exactly the same! I never thought I would be able to say this, but for a few moments, I actually forgot that I was eating gluten free.

My husband hates pancakes, but as we sat down and ate them, my husband with a surprised look on his face said "These are quite possibly the best pancakes I have ever tasted". Score!

Lemon Lovers' Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar OR 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 Cup Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
1 large Egg
2 large Egg Whites
1/2 Cup fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
the zest of one Lemon
1 Tbsp Canola Oil + Oil for the pan
Preheat a skillet or electric griddle to medium heat or about 325*f. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar if you choose to use it. In a separate bowl, whisk together the agave nectar (if not using granulated sugar), ricotta, eggs, lemon juice, zest and canola oil. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry. The batter will be super thick. Using a lunch lady scoop (the ones with an ejector handle) or a spoon. Gently spread the batter out-it will be thick. Let it cook until golden on the bottom, then flip them. You wont see bubbles coming through to the top like you would making regular pancakes. Cook on the second side until golden brown. They will be super fluffy and light.
Blueberry Sauce
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed, of course!)
2 tsp Cornstarch
2 Cups Blueberries
1/3 Cup Sugar or 1/4 Cup Agave Nectar
2 Tbsp H2O
1/4 tsp Salt

Mix lemon juice and cornstarch, set aside. Bring blueberries, salt, H2O, and agave/sugar to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon/cornstarch and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
Holy momma, these will knock your socks off!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

For All You Dog Lovers

This is our dog, Queso. Yes, his name is 'cheese'. In Spanish. A lot of my favorite bloggers have posted pictures of their dogs, and I love their pictures, so I thought I would show you our dog. He is bigger than this now, but this is one of my favorites! What a cutie! He is a mix between a lab and a corgi...we think. Don't ask how this happened, we don't know! I hope you dog lovers enjoy the pic!

Flourless Banana Zucchini Cake

Last night I finally went through my food storage and pantry/spice cabinet to de-glutenize my kitchen. Yes, it is long overdue, but I just could not bring myself to lose all of this food! Food=money, and we are in short supply of that right now (stupid taxes!) I was able to give it away to friends who could use it, so that makes me feel a bit better. What also makes me feel better is that I don't have to keep track of what I can and cannot have. I can just grab anything out of the pantry and go! I have lots of room now to re-stock things that I can have. It is a good feeling. I think because of this, I was really, really in the mood to cook today. After I had my 1st bowl of Rice Chex (which are now GF...SCORE!!) since October 2007, I just started cooking like crazy! I also rode my bike for the 1st time this season because it was around 80* f today. Ah, warm weather and food, not much in life is better! Anyhow, I made a ton of food today, and I was feeling creative, so I wanted to try my hand at making something totally of my own creation. Nothing based off of any other recipe. I wanted to take my culinary knowledge and create something tasty.... I can totally do this no problem if I am allowed to use regular flour. This gluten free thing is a whole new world when it comes to baking and pastries!

This turned out really well, and I am really happy with it. It has a very nice texture...similar to a custard. It was really simple too. I would recommend serving this with a dollop of whipped cream. Not Chantilly cream-which is sweetened with sugar and usually has some vanilla. No, just plain cream whipped to a medium peak. The cake is sweet enough to hold it's own without added sugar.

Flourless Banana Zucchini Cake

1 Banana, mashed

1 small Zucchini, grated

2 1/2 Tbsp Coconut Oil, softened (Spectrum brand works for me)

1 whole Egg

1/4 Cup Agave Nectar

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 Tbsp Cinnamon

Splash of GF Vanilla

Sprinkle of Demerara Sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

Preheat oven to 350 f. Mix all ingredients together EXCEPT for the Demerara sugar. Mix well. Pour into a greased 6" cake pan with a parchment circle on the bottom. This will help to prevent it from sticking. Bake for approx 20-25 minutes or until it is solid and not jiggly. Check it after about 15 minutes just to be sure...I have a convection oven and am at a high altitude, so you will want to watch it a little because your baking time could be slightly different. Once out of the oven, sprinkle the demerara sugar over the cake and let it cool for about 10 minutes before de-panning. Eat up!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What is Celiac Sprue or Gluten Intolerance?

I have had people approach me lately asking what Celiac is and why do so many people need to be on a gluten free diet? I have taken excerpts below from the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse to help explain the disease and how it effects people. The list of allowed foods and foods to avoid is not is just meant for an example.

What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate a protein called gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is found mainly in foods but may also be found in products we use every day, such as stamp and envelope adhesive, medicines, and vitamins.

When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. The tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine are damaged or destroyed. Called villi, they normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, regardless of the quantity of food eaten.

Because the body’s own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a disease of malabsorption because nutrients are not absorbed. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

Celiac disease is a genetic disease, meaning it runs in families. Sometimes the disease is triggered—or becomes active for the first time—after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.

What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
Celiac disease affects people differently. Symptoms may occur in the digestive system, or in other parts of the body. For example, one person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. In fact, irritability is one of the most common symptoms in children.

Symptoms of celiac disease may include one or more of the following:

recurring abdominal bloating and pain
chronic diarrhea
pale, foul-smelling, or fatty stool
weight loss/weight gain
unexplained anemia (a low count of red blood cells causing fatigue)
bone or joint pain
osteoporosis, osteopenia
behavioral changes
tingling numbness in the legs (from nerve damage)
muscle cramps
missed menstrual periods (often because of excessive weight loss)
infertility, recurrent miscarriage
delayed growth
failure to thrive in infants
pale sores inside the mouth, called aphthous ulcers
tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis

A person with celiac disease may have no symptoms. People without symptoms are still at risk for the complications of celiac disease, including malnutrition. The longer a person goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the chance of developing malnutrition and other complications. Anemia, delayed growth, and weight loss are signs of malnutrition: The body is just not getting enough nutrients. Malnutrition is a serious problem for children because they need adequate nutrition to develop properly.

What is the treatment?
The only treatment for celiac disease is to follow a gluten-free diet. When a person is first diagnosed with celiac disease, the doctor usually will ask the person to work with a dietitian on a gluten-free diet plan. Someone with celiac disease can learn from a dietitian how to read ingredient lists and identify foods that contain gluten in order to make informed decisions at the grocery store and when eating out.

For most people, following this diet will stop symptoms, heal existing intestinal damage, and prevent further damage. Improvements begin within days of starting the diet. The small intestine is usually completely healed in 3 to 6 months in children and younger adults and within 2 years for older adults. Healed means a person now has villi that can absorb nutrients from food into the bloodstream.

In order to stay well, people with celiac disease must avoid gluten for the rest of their lives. Eating any gluten, no matter how small an amount, can damage the small intestine. The damage will occur in anyone with the disease, including people without noticeable symptoms.

Allowed Foods:
Amaranth, Arrowroot, Buckwheat, Cassava, Corn, Flax, Indian rice grass, Legumes, Millet, Nuts, Potatoes, Quinoa, Rice, Sago Seeds, Soy, Sorghum, Tapioca, Wild Rice and Yucca, Fresh Meat and Fish-frozen can have a glutenous coating to prevent sticking

Foods To Avoid:
Wheat-- Including einkorn, emmer, spelt, kamut
Wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, cracked wheat, hydrolyzed wheat protein
Barley, Rye, Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye), Bromated flour, Durum flour, Enriched flour, Farina, Graham flour, Phosphated flour, Plain flour, Self-rising flour, Semolina, White flour, MSG, Modified Food Starch, Natural or Artificial Flavorings

Six Word Memoir

I have been tagged by Elle from Elle's New England Kitchen to post a six word memoir about myself. This is pretty exciting....I love getting new readers AND playing games, so this rocks! The foodie blogroll has really helped with getting more readers, so I am super happy about that!

Rules: 1. Write your own six-word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post.
4. Tag five or six (choice is yours) more blogs with links.
5. Remember to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play. it goes!


I tag some of my blogging buddies as well as some highlighted blogs from the blogroll:

The Good Eatah
Gluten Free Steve
Randomosity And The Girl
East Meets West Kitchen
My Plate, My World

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Indian Rice Pudding

This is one of my favorite recipes. It cooks in a jiffy, so it is perfect for last minute get togethers, yet it is homey enough to be comfort food. Eat it warm or cold, it is a treat for all!


*April in Colorado is usually our snowiest month, and this year seems to be no exception. I made this last week when I needed something to warm me up from the wet, heavy, snow-filled nights and again today to cool me off when it hit 65 degrees. *

*Indian Rice Pudding

3 Cups cooked rice (I prefer Jasmine rice)
1 Can (15 oz) Coconut Milk, 1st pressing
3 Cups Milk (I use soy)
1 Cup Sugar (white or brown...or both!)
2 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Nutmeg
Splash GF Vanilla
Large handful Currants, Raisins, or other Dried Fruit
Large handful toasted Almonds, slivered
Pinch of Salt

*In a large pot, cook rice according to package directions. Add the rest of the ingredients, and while whisking, heat it to just before a boil. Take it off of the heat while still a bit soupy.

*That's it. No joke. The rice will soak up the rest of the liquid over time.

*Eat it warm-soothing, relaxing, comforting
*Eat it cold-a great breakfast, dessert or midnight snack

*cooks note-change up the qty's of the sugar and spices to go along with your tastes. Use agave instead of sugar or brown rice instead of jasmine! Go crazy!

The Foodie Blogroll

I wanted to let you all know that I have joined the Foodie Blogroll. What does that mean? It means that my blog will be linked up to other blogs who are also on the blogroll. This allows our Google status to go up, and it also allows for more visitors to the site. It is a community of Foodies, and I am excited to become more involved in their happenings! Scroll down a bit and look to the right of this page, and you will be able to view different blogs on the blogroll. You may just find your new favorite blog there! Yippee!!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tender Pork Chops with Herbed Two Squash Pasta

I must say that I am quite proud of this dish...this is a new favorite! We didn't discover our love of squash until after my diagnosis. Since then, it has become a staple in our home, and we are always looking for new ways to use it.

This was a meal that made me dance around my kitchen, it was love at first taste ;)
*Please excuse my picture...our camera is broken, so this comes from my trusty camera phone

Tender Pork Chops with Herbed Two Squash Pasta

4 Pork Chops
1 medium Spaghetti Squash
2 Tbsp EV Olive Oil
1 medium Zucchini Squash, sliced into coins
1/2 White Onion, small diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tsp Parsley
2 Tsp Rosemary
2 Tsp Thyme
2 Tsp Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 f. Cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise down the center and place both halves face down in a roasting pan half way full of water. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes or until a knife poked into the side slides out easily.

In the meantime, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Salt and Pepper both sides of the pork chops, add the stock to the sauteed onions, nestle in the pork chops and cover the pan with a lid. Turn down the heat to Med Low. Cook the chops low and slow until cooked to your liking. They will stay tender at a low temp.

Once the spaghetti squash is finished baking, pull it out of the oven and let it cool a bit until it is comfortable to touch. Pull out the pork chops onto a plate. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the squash and discard them. Using the same spoon or a fork, gently scrape the spaghetti strands out of the squash skin. Turn up the heat on the pan with the sauteed onions to med high or so, and add the spaghetti and zucchini squash. Toss to coat, melting in the butter and adding the herbs, salt and pepper. Add the chops back in and you are set to go!

Snuggle close to your sweetheart and eat up! Pack the rest for a lunch your co-workers will be jealous of!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"Sopapillas" with Sweet Butter and Tart Lemon Pulp

Tonight we had a mexican inspired meal, and I thought it would be fun to try my hand at GF sopapillas. You'll notice that I put that in quotations in my title. That's because they didn't turn out like a conventional sopapilla. They puffed a little, but not as much as one would expect.

They still tasted awesome!!! I actually really recommend trying these out! Let me know if yours puff up better!

"Sopapillas" with Sweet Butter and Tart Lemon Pulp

Zest from one large Lemon
Juice and pulp from the same lemon
1/2 cup Sugar
Splash of Water
1 tsp. Unflavored Gelatin
1 Tbsp Water

1/2 Cup of your preferred GF flour mix
1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
3/4 tsp. Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1/4 Tbsp. Butter
1/3 Cup Water
Oil for frying

For the Tart Lemon Pulp, add the first 4 ingredients to a sauce pan. Taste it and make sure you like the amount of sugar in can always add more to make it sweeter. Bring it to a simmer and reduce it down by 1/4 or so. In the mean time, bloom the gelatin in a small cup with the remaining water. Once the simmering lemon is reduced a bit, add the bloomed gelatin. Whisk it a bit, and pour it into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cool. It should be thick, but still kind of liquid.

For the sopapillas, mix all of your dry ingredients together. Crumble in your butter like you would if you were making a pie crust. Add your water, a bit a time and begin to knead the dough together. It should be a tiny bit dry, but if you feel it is too dry, you can add a bit more water. It will all depend on your weather outside.

Begin heating the oil on the stove and bring it up to 400 f. Be oh so careful not to burn yourself! Pat the dough flat (1/2" thick) and cut into squares-whatever size you want. Fry for about 30 seconds on each side. Using a metal slotted spoon, remove from hot oil and drain on some paper towels.
Melt the sweet butter over the sopapillas and drizzle the cooled lemon pulp over them. It would also be attractive to sift some powdered sugar over them when plating them up.

cooks note-If you want your lemon pulp to be thicker, you can reduce it more or you can add more gelatin; thinner, you can omit the gelatin and stop once you have reduced by 1/4. If you are vegan and don't use gelatin, just squeeze more lemons and add more sugar and reduce it a lot more. It will become syrupy and the natural pectin in it will help to thicken it. You are also welcome to use store bought pectin as well.

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