January 27, 2009

Gluten Free Chocolate Kiss Cookies

I hit the ground running this semester, and things don't seem to be slowing down. It's all good though, since everything I'm doing is exactly what I want to be doing.  I'm finishing up a research project on men and domestic violence work; preparing to spend the month of May in China teaching social work and conducting research; interning as a clinical sexuality counselor; teaching an after-school sexuality education class; getting ready to graduate with two Masters degrees; and getting married in July.  This is turning out to be the busiest year EVER!!!  Although I'm feeling pretty content with the way my life is turning out, I do hope things slow down after the wedding.  I'll be needing some serious R&R come the end of Summer, and I don't think a couple week honeymoon will cut it (although it'll be a great start)!

During times like these, I find it a matter of self care to give in to my chocolate addiction.  The following cookie recipe uses Hershey's Kisses. It comes from one of my favorite cookie books: HERSHEY'S Classic Recipes. According to this link: "GF Candy Database" and other sources, Hershey's Kisses are gluten free.  However, as with most products coming from huge factories, there is a slight chance of cross-contamination.  Now I've never had a negative reaction to Hershey's products, if you are worried about it, or have an extremely sensitive system, simply replace the kisses with chunks of your favorite GF chocolate. Be prepared, because this one is messy!

Chocolate Kiss Cookie Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. all natural vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cup all purpose gluten-free flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 bag (9 ounces) Hershey Kisses (or chocolate chunks)
  • Powdered sugar

Baking Directions
  1. Beat the butter, granulated sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy. 
  2. Mix the flour and cocoa, then gradually add the creamy butter mixture. Beat until blended.
  3. Add the pecans and incorporate.
  4. Refrigerate the dough for about an hour, or until it's firm enough to handle.
  5. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  6. Remove the wrappers from the Hershey's Kisses (or cut chocolate into 1/2 inch chunks). Mold about a tablespoon of cookie dough around each piece of chocolate, making sure to cover completely in order to shape it into a ball.
  7. Place each cookie dough ball onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 3 inches apart.
  8. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until dough appears set.  Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks.
  9. Once cooled, dust with powdered sugar (optional).

January 14, 2009

Gluten Free Edamame-Lentil Stew

Now that things are getting busier, I'm so glad we decided on making Sunday our "meal-prep-for-the-week" day.  This time it took less than two hours! I like not worrying about food when I'm busy.  Plus, the meals we make tend to be pretty healthy; at least a lot more healthy than Wendy's burgers, minus the buns, or mayonnaise-laden chicken salad from the corner deli.

This side dish can actually be eaten as a main entree. I loved it! The flavors explode in your mouth. And it's super-healthy. You actually feel a little bit healthier after every bite. Not kidding.  Just take a little bean-o, since this is chock full of legumes! Did you know that beans are the magic fruit?

Cooking Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 3/4 cup frozen shelled soybeans (edamame)
  • 1 1/2 cups minced red onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 14-16 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 6 tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tblsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tblsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

Cooking Instructions
  • Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes (or until tender). Drain and set aside.
  • Place the soy beans in a small saucepan, cover with 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large lidded pot on medium-high heat.  Throw in the onion, the garlic and tomatoes. Stirring often, cook for about 6 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir in lentils, edamame, juice and the rest of the ingredients. Cook and stir for about 3 more minutes.
  • Serve it up hot and enjoy!

January 8, 2009

Gluten Free Tomato and Zucchini Gratin

Well, I'm back in the swing of things.  The transition is always rough for a couple of days, then it just wears off and your back in the grind:)  One of the things I always tell people who've just found out they can no longer ingest gluten, is that keeping things simple is the best way to go. Mindy and I decided that we were going to eat healthier and cheaper for our joint New Year's resolution. We are both super-busy over-achievers, who often end up eating out, either because we don't have the time to cook, or because we are just too darned tired after work.  So, we agreed to make Sunday our "cooking day," where we would make all of our meals for the upcoming work-week.  Well, at least all of our lunches and dinners.  Breakfast is just too easy to warrant eating  defrosted omelets!

Here is an example of one of those great dishes that is simple, and naturally gluten free. I made this along with my meals for the week.  I loved it! You can use eggplant instead of zucchini (also known as courgettes) if you'd like.  There's a couple stages to this one, but it's still easy, and the finished product is healthy and delicious.  Enjoy!

Gratin Ingredients
  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced
  • 1 pound of roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese 
  • 6 tblsp olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Gratin Directions
  1. Preheat the broiler (or grill).
  2. Place the sliced zucchinis in a single layer on a foil-lined grill rack.  Brush the zucchini slices with olive oil and broil for 15-20 minutes, turning once about half way (until golden on both sides).  If you overlap your slices a bit, don't worry about it. Not a big deal:)
  3. Remove from broiler and set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. Toss together the browned zucchini, sliced tomatoes, a little more olive oil, and some salt and pepper in a bowl.  Then pile the mixture into a shallow, baking dish. 
  6. Drizzle the zucchini and tomato slices with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and the vegetables are piping hot.
  8. Chow down immediately!

January 5, 2009

Gluten Free Golden Raisin Pumpkin Squares

Can you believe the holidays are over already!? Did anyone else notice a different feel to this holiday season?  Like what people received from each other wasn't important as the time spent? Maybe it was just me. Regardless,  my winter break absolutely flew by.  My partner and I drove to Georgia to spend time with my family.  We cooked a ton!!  It was really nice to just chill out with family for a change.  Living and attending graduate school in the Philadelphia area is great, but I have absolutely no family anywhere nearby. From there we drove to Syracuse, NY to spend time with our two great friends, Cheryl and David Vermillya.  I've known them for close to 20 years, and we've made it a ritual to spend New Years with them. Just like the last three years, we awoke on New Years Day to the smell of freshly brewed coffee (that we brought back from San Juan Puerto Rico as a gift) and the sounds of folk music. After breakfast we took a trip to Beaver Lake to cross-country ski.  There had been a small storm a few days before we arrived so there was a good base of snow waiting for us.  It was a beautiful day to be out in the woods:)

Back to Georgia... this recipe is an adaptation of my banana bread recipe. Just like the original banana bread recipe, I cooked it until a toothpick inserted in the center came out clean.  I sliced up some small square samples and handed them out.  After the first bite I was in love. At first I didn't know what to call it. It's texture was kind of like a cross between bread pudding, a slice of pie and a brownie. And boy was it good! It was hard not eating the entire pan in one sitting, I'm not even joking. It became one of those situations where you make compromises with yourself regarding how much more you'll allow yourself to eat, or, how much longer you'll make yourself wait for the next slice.  This is how it was when it was still warm: completely, and seductively sinful! Well, at least it was to me at that moment in time:) But seriously, this is yummy! Make it, you'll love it! That is, if you have a throbbing sweet tooth and love the taste of pumpkin and golden raisins.

My mom hooked me up with the red plate and insisted on adding a dab of fluff:)

Recipe Ingredients
  • 3 cups gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Mix)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt (or regular salt)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tblsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup soy, rice, or buttermilk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs

Baking Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Coat a 13" by 9-ish" baking pan with cooking spray (check ingredients for gluten) and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer or hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugars and oil until combined. Beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Next, mix in the vanilla, pumpkin, golden raisins, and milk. 
  4. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. Remove and let cool.
  5. Grab some whip cream and go to town!


Just So You Know...

The information presented in this blog is intended to educate and entertainment. However, I'm not a medical expert.  I also do not know absolutely everything about Celiac Disease.  What I do know has been learned through trial and error, research, and what has been taught to me by friends who also share my food-related affliction.  Please take the time to do your own research about Celiac Disease and gluten-related issues.  I have a list of links to useful resources along the left-side of this blog. Also, feel free to cross-check my statements. If you find contrary information, please let me know. Thanks so much for visiting Trav's Gone Gluten Free!