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Category Archives: All Things Food

Recipe: Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s so busy. And, honestly, my desire to write has been faltering recently. Posts and articles aren’t popping into my head like they usually do. So it’s been quiet around here. But I’m pulling it back together and digging through the drafts and making a brainstorm list of new content and who knows what else.

This recipe is almost a year old now. I made these Gluten Free Cupcakes for Sister-Bug’s “Pinkaliscious” birthday party last March.

I’ve been playing around with different flour mixes when I bake gluten-free. I hit on a mix that I used in cupcakes that was just perfect. Papa-Bug, who is notoriously picky about gluten-free baking, couldn’t tell that these cupcakes were anything other than normal. Everyone munched them up.
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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

I used the Chocolate Layer Cake recipe on page 724 of Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” as a guide.

Flour Mix:

3/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup each tapioca and cornstarch

8 tbl. soft, unsalted butter

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, roughtly chopped

1 cup sugar

3 eggs separated

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp xanthan gum

1 1/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350* and prepare your cupcake liners/pans.

Melt the chocolate over low heat in a double boiler. Remove from the heat when it is almost melted and stir until it’s all smooth.

Cream the butter until fluffy, add the sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla and keep whipping it while slowly adding the chocolate.

Mix together the flour mix, baking powder, salt, and xanthan gum in a separate bowl. Add to the butter/sugar a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Stir until just mixed and smooth.

Whip egg whites to soft peaks and fold in carefully – taking your time!) after mixing everything else.

Baked 25-30 min. until the toothpick came out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

No one will know these are gluten-free.

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I’ll probably use a similar recipe for Sister-Bug’s upcoming 5th birthday party. She’s going to see Cinderella with her besties, so I get to do the requisite bowl cake with a doll for a Cinderella themed cake. Just like my mom did for me once upon a time.

 

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Recipe: The Christmas Miracle

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An accidental drink creation on Christmas Day last year that I saved to share with you this holiday season (and also because I wasn't going to write a recipe post on Christmas!).

I got some really good chai mix in my stocking, because Papa-Bug loves me. Really good. You can order some of the Blue Lotus Chai here. Before you order, let me warn you that it will ruin you for most other chai. It's so darn good. (They don't even know I'm writing this post, so neither of us gets anything out of my spiel for them. I just love that chai…)

Anyway.

This was my drink of choice last Christmas, and I will be indulging again on Christmas morning.

I call it The Christmas Miracle.

Gently warm a mug of eggnog. Mix in some Blue Lotus chai mix to taste. I like mine one the spicy side and always add more than they call for. No need to add any sweetener – the eggnog took care of that. Gently stir in a shot of rum or whiskey (your choice – I prefer rum but I also don't like whiskey at all).

Sip slowly in your pajamas while you watch your kids break their new toys.

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And have a Happy Holiday.

 

Recipie: Pear Nibbles

Knitting group was coming over. Snacks were needed. So with some extra puff pastry and pears leftover from the recent canning projects, I pulled these bites together. And they were so good. So autumnal. Not too sweet and just sticky enough.

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Pear Nibbles
1 sheet of puff pastry
2-3 tbl. unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
A pinch of salt
1 tbl. Whiskey or Scotch (optional)
3-4 pears (I used Bartlett, but any pear will work)
1/2 cup (approximate) of chopped pecans

I used silicone cupcake forms, but these could be made in paper lined muffin cups just as easily. I’m really in love with my silicone cupcake forms. I use them all the time – for baking, playdough projects, kindergarten sorting math, toddler games, serving soft boiled eggs…

But back to pears.

Preheat your oven to 400*. Cut your puff pastry into 16 equal(ish) rectangles. Put one square in the bottom of each cupcake paper.

Melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Stir and brown just a little, for about 2-3 minutes. Add the the salt and the whiskey/scotch (if using) and cook for another minute or so. Set aside.

Core and quarter the pears and chop the pears into chunks. Put 3-5 chunks on top of the puff pastry. Add a spoonful of pecans over the pears. Drizzle the butter/brown sugar over the nuts and pears a spoonful at a time. Use it up.

Bake for 20 minutes. Let them cool before serving – this allows the butter and sugar to really soak into the puff pastry.

Enjoy.

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Are you joining my Imperfect33 project? I hope you do!

Recipe: Spring Lamb Stew

Buying meat by the side from the Deck Family Farm means I get odd (and really good) pieces. Recently I found a lovely pack of lamb hocks and decided to boil them down for a stew. It’s been spring here in Oregon, which means erratically sunny and rainy. It might be gorgeous in the morning and I dream of spring grilling…and by the time I need to start dinner it’s definitely stew weather. We have a saying here: Don’t like the spring weather? Wait five minutes or drive five miles. Once I saw it raining out one window facing the back of hour house and it was sunny out the side window around the corner.

But I digress. Back to the lamb hocks. And nettles. We love eating nettles and I will put them in anything. They are particularly amazing in this stew.

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Spring Lamb Stew

1 pack of lamb hocks *(recipe alterations to use a pound of lamb stew meat are at the end of the recipe)

1 tbl. cooking oil (tallow, coconut oil, lard…)

4-5 cups water

1 onion

2-3 potatoes

2 stalks celery

2 carrots

1 big bunch of fresh nettles

1/2 cup pesto

Salt & pepper to taste

Coarsely chop the onions and saute them in a little of your favorite cooking oil. I used tallow. Add the hocks and the water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for a while. I let mine for for an hour or so. Remove the hocks and let them cool. Chop the potatoes, carrots, and celery into stew-sized pieces. Add them to the broth and continue simmering.

As soon as the hocks have cooled to a touchable temperature, start pulling the meat off them and tossing it in the soup pot. I also scraped the marrow out of the bones; a step which made this soup wonderfully nutritious. As soon as all the meat is in the soup, don some gardening gloves and chop your nettles up. Always wear gloves when chopping nettles – you do not want a nettle sting under the fingernail, I promise. Toss the nettles in the soup and let them wilt. Stir in the pesto, adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with crusty bread.

*If you don’t have lamb hocks, I am sorry. You can use beef broth and a pound of lamb stew chunks instead. After you have cooked down the lamb, leave it in the pot to continue stewing while you add the vegetables.

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Nettles are one of our favorite spring foods. What early foods do you eat to know that spring is here?

 

 

 

Recipe: Fire Honegar

*Honegar is the word used for a medicine that is a mix of Honey and Vinegar.
It is the middle of cold and flu season. It is cold out. We need a little something to spice life up. So here is the recipe for my favorite cold and flu (and hangover!) remedy. Some call it Fire Cider, or Dragon Cider, or Dragon's Breath. I learned this recipe from my teacher Gina McGarry back when I was in her wonderful school of herbalism and healing and I have been making it yearly ever since.
It's not hard, but it does take time, and is much easier with a food processor. You will need:
Apple cider vinegar (1 quart or so), raw honey (1 quart or so). Strong onions. Garlic. Horseradish. Ginger. Very spicy peppers – these are a Thai pepper of some kind I found at my farmers market.
What we are going for is “equal spice parts”. The peppers are much hotter than the onion so we need more onion than pepper. Does that make sense? I have never once in my life – in the 12 years I have been making this – actually measured the ingredients. I just wing it and it seems to work.
The first step is to wash and prep every thing. Peel the onions, top the peppers, separate the garlic cloves… I always use my food processor to mince everything up, so I cut everything into large chunks. I don't peel the garlic cloves or the ginger.
Very important note: wear gloves. The oils from the peppers and the fumes from the horseradish will get everywhere. If you have kids you can transfer those oils on to them or you can wipe your eyes and YOW. Wear gloves. See my gloves in he picture?
Mince your ingredients in the food processor, one at a time. You want them to be very finely chopped. You can do this by hand if you don't have a food processor. I have often hand chopped my ingredients and it works well. It just takes a very long time. Add each ingredient to a large bowl and mix them together.
Another very important note: the fumes released while your food processor chops the horseradish could be used as a chemical weapon. Do the horseradish last. Drape a towel over the food processor while you are chopping and then let it sit for 5 minutes to rest those fumes. Have babies and little ones in a different room. DO NOT open the food processor and look in to see if it looks right. It hurts. A lot.
Fill a clean jar about half way with the chopped mix. Fill some jars with vinegar and some with honey. It ray to make about half and half. Use a chopstick to stir and release air bubbles. Top off with vinegar or honey and tightly lid. Shake thoroughly and dance around for about 5 minutes.
In the picture below, the honey is in the middle.

Now we get into the alchemy. I know plenty of people who don't do the next part. I know people who have scoffed at me for the next part, so feel free to skip it and tell me I am full of hippy-woo-woo.

We bury our fire cider & honey for a moon cycle. I wrap each jar in a plastic bag, we dig a shallow hole, and let the jars rest in the dark, under cover of dirt, for a month. This is how I learned to make this medicine and, honestly, it is my favorite part. It feels special and sacred and magical. I swear it makes my medicine more potent.

When I dig the cider, I strain the chopped mix through a piece of clean muslin. This is another time to wear gloves! I combine the honey and the vinegar usually, but that is personal preference. You can also keep one bottle of honey and one of vinegar. It is so very tasty combined – sweet, acidic, and ever so hot. I also combine and save the remaining chopped mix. It makes a wonderful spicy relish for people who like a little heat in their food. Try it in a tuna sandwich.

The liquid gets stored in dark bottles. The relish is stored in the he fridge in small jars. It doesn't last long around here. It is our go-to in all adult cases of cold and flu. You can imagine how it moves congestion with all that spicy goodness!

That's all. It's not hard or expensive and the health benefits are immense.

Enjoy!

 

About Dulce de Leche

We have been participants in the Deck Family Farm dairy herd share for about two years now. The flavor of raw milk is so good – totally different from store milk. Recently we ended up with extra milk. We just didn't drink it as fast as we usually do. I was thinking of making the extra into yogurt, inspired by my friend's post about making her own yogurt.

But then Papa-Bug showed me Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Dulce de Leche from scratch, no sweetened condensed milk involved. Really…why would I make yogurt when I could make that?

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Smitten Kitchen's recipe is very simple. It's not even that attention consuming. My brother came over with his son and we had a play date, chatting, eating lunch, and periodically stirring our carmelizing milk. From a half gallon of milk (plus sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon) we each got about a pint of heaven to eat with a spoon.

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So what did we do with that Dulce de Leche? Well… It was good on a spoon. And in popovers one morning. And on the second of February we made crepes.

We always make crepes on the second of February. It's Imbolc or Candlemas – a day on the circle of the year to welcome back the sun. It translates to a Catholic holy day as well, and a French teacher once told me that in France, February 2nd is called Chandeleur and celebrated with crepes – piles and piles of golden crepes – to represent the golden candleglow of the holy day. Now, I will eat crepes for any reason and that seems like a particularly good one. So annually we welcome back the glow of the sun with our golden crepes.

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For these crepes I used some more extra milk to make a simple soft cheese that I flavored with a little vanilla syrup. Each crepe got a filling of soft cheese, a spoonful of Dulce de Leche, and had more Dulce de Leche drizzled over the top. It got rave reviews from everyone at the table and Brother-Bug told me that I am the best cook ever. So I'll call that a success.

It was so good. And there was a little Ducle de Leche left over.

Our little valley has been snowed in for the weekend. So we made cookie bars. Another Smitten Kitech recipe. (I got the cookbook for Christmas and have been a little obsessed with it…) This weekend we made Gooey Cinnamon Bars from the book. Basically they are an excuse to eat a stick of butter. My favorite kind of cookie.

And then Papa-Bug said, “You know what would gild this lilly…” Whenever he says that it likely means something gastronomically amazing.

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With the last of the Dulce de Leche we made sundaes. A Gooey Cinnamon Bar on the bottom, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and all topped with the Dulce de Leche. And that lilly was well and truly gilded. The bars by themselves were so good. The Dulce de Leche was amazing. The combination was a perfect dessert.

And now the Dulce de Leche is all gone.

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But that's okay because I know how to make more.

 

Recipe: Tropical Gelatin Salad

One of Brother-Bug’s resolutions for 2014 was to eat a papaya. I love that. So simple. An easy win. So, at the grocery store last week we bought a papaya and waited (with much impatience) for it to ripen.

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Last night I made Pad Thai for dinner and it needed a side. It was full of veggies and proteins already, and pantry options were looking slim. Then I found a can of coconut milk and remembered the papaya. Happily, all of those events happened early enough in the day that I had time to utilize the handful of gelatin packets that the Toddler-Bug brought me when he was tearing the pantry apart. And this very tasty gelatin salad was born.

Tropical Gelatin Salad

1 15 oz. can of coconut milk

1 can of crushed pineapple

4 packets of unflavored gelatin

1 can of pineapple chunks (or half a fresh pineapple)

1 ripe papaya

Pour the juice off the pineapples and mix in the gelatin. While the gelatin softens, bring the coconut milk to a low boil. Stir in the pineapple juice, gelatin, and crushed pineapple. Mix well and pour into a 9×13 baking pan. Chill for 3 or more hours until the gelatin is well set.

Once the coconut milk gelatin is set, peel and seed the papaya (and the fresh pineapple if you took that route). Cut the fruit into medium chunks, fairly uniform with a chunk of canned pineapple. Cut the gelatin into similar sized squares. Mix the fruit and gelatin all together in a large bowl.

That’s the kid-friendly version. To make this a little more interesting (though it is plenty good as it is) add some finely shredded fresh basil and red chili flakes, to taste.