2-for-1 GF Muffin Recipe

May 27, 2011

blueberry muffins

In case you’re wondering why I’m posting so many grain-free (gluten-free) recipes lately and in case I haven’t mentioned it, we have given up grains again. This time I really think we will make it through. I don’t believe it will be a lifelong endeavor. I think that the over-consumption of grains have caused health problems of epic proportions in this country.

Quick side note: Not only are grain products knowingly consumed in huge quantities, grain is found in almost every food that is processed with the exception of some items labeled gluten-free. In addition, all the meat sold at most stores (unless specifically marked grass-fed and finished) were fed grain for at least part of their lives (and certainly the last months). I believe this may have contributed to the problems associated with gluten sensitivities.

I think that those problems are reversible (just like my arthritis was) and I think that in moderation, someday we can enjoy them again. Only time will tell. So, this is a heads up that most of the recipes you will see here, at least for a while, will probably be grain-free.

Being grain-free for several weeks now (with the exception of white rice in some sushi I ate), I was starting to wish for some kind of bread to add some variety to our meals. Since we’ve mostly stayed away from desserts and sweets with the exception of liquid stevia and a tiny amount of raw honey now and then, I was torn when I started thinking of making some almond flour bread. The recipe is very similar to the muffin recipe. In the end, I decided to make both: almond flour rolls and almond flour muffins. To do that, I mixed up a double batch of the basic recipe, then separated the batter and added the final touches. A few years ago I found an almond flour muffin recipe on About.com. I used that recipe, left out the sweeteners, worked with it a bit and came up with an almond flour bread recipe. I hadn’t seen one prior to creating mine. When I went back to About.com to look up the muffin recipe (easier than digging through my recipe book, which is a disorganized mess), I found the author had changed the recipe to include adjustments for bread. Though not exactly like my recipe, it is very similar. What can I say? Great minds think alike! Anyway, I decided to use this recipe with (as always) my own tweaks. You can find the original here. Laura Dolson is an awesome low carb resource.

Basic Almond Flour Muffin Mix
double batch

4 cups almond flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, melted (I used ghee)
8 fresh eggs
2/3 cup water

Measure dry ingredients into a bowl.
dry ingredients

In a separate bowl, add all wet ingredients.
wet ingredients

Mix ingredients in each bowl until well combined.
ingredients mixed

Combine wet ingredients with dry and mix well.
ingredients combined

Now that you have your base recipe, you can decide what you want to bake. If you want to make sweet muffins, you can add sweetener equal to 1/3 cup (adjust to taste) and any additions you choose. I chose blueberries. If you want to make a “roll” to use for bread, you can add spices according to your taste. Here’s what I used:
bread spices

Preheat oven to 350o. Separate batter if using for 2 different products.
In the muffin batter (1/2 the basic batter), I added the following:

30 drops liquid stevia
3 fresh blueberries for each muffin

The muffins weren’t very sweet, so next time I will do some adjustments to the recipe. I used a regular muffin pan, greased with butter.
muffin pans

After filling each cup 2/3 full, I placed 3 blueberries on top and slightly pressed them down, like this:
blueberries in muffins

Then I baked them for 15 minutes and got exactly 12 muffins out of it.
muffins cooked

Let cool for about 10 minutes then remove to cooling rack.
muffins cooling

In the bread batter (1/2 the basic batter), I added the following:

2 tsp onion granules
large pinch (or sprinkle) each of garlic salt, turmeric, and cumin

Butter pan. I used this muffin top pan for my bread rolls.
muffin top pan

I filled each section about 2/3 full.
fill muffin top pan

I baked them for about 15 minutes and got 10 rolls total.
almond flour rolls

We used them for supper and made roast beef sandwiches out of them by splitting them in half. I added some homemade mayo, sliced onion and tomato, with a pickle on the side. Mmmmm!
roast beef sandwich

It was nice to be able to enjoy a sandwich again. 🙂

This post is part of the following blog carnivals:
Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade.
Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop

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Kombucha How To

May 21, 2011

straining the berries

I love kombucha! As I was sitting here having a glass and thinking about my neglected blog, I remembered I had taken some pics when I made my last batch. I did this so I could do a post on how I make it. (This is for you, E!) Of course, this how-to begins with a SCOBY in possession. If you don’t have one, here’s a great primer for how to make one:
How to grow a SCOBY.

There are also websites devoted to sharing SCOBYs. Here’s a group on facebook:
Facebook Kombucha Group

Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comment section or on my facebook page.

Once you have obtained a SCOBY, you need to make sure you have the right kind of tea. The kinds I have seen most recommended are green, black, and oolong. I personally use a combination of 1 black to 3 green or oolong. (This is to reduce caffeine) Just make sure it isn’t a flavored tea. I also always buy organic tea, because I’ve read that non-organic tea has a higher level of flouride. This is what I am currently using:
good tea

I start by heating a teapot of water. Using filtered water is very important. You don’t want to kill your SCOBY with chlorinated water. While this is heating, I pour 1 cup of sugar into a gallon jar.
UPDATE: I now use turbinado sugar exclusively.
sugar in jar

I then pour the hot water into the jar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the tea bags.
sugar water and tea

I set the jar on the little rack so that it will cool faster. I usually just leave the tea bags in until the water is cool. You can remove them sooner, if preferred. Once the tea is cooled, remove the tea bags if you haven’t already. Then add filtered water so that the jar is approximately 5/8 full.
ready for SCOBY

At this point, I need to warn the faint of heart there is graphic material ahead. If you like science and science projects, you will probably be fine. And if you ever hope to brew your own kombucha, you will have to forge ahead. But if you are the least bit squeamish and have never seen a picture of a SCOBY, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Okay, then, here we go…

My SCOBY is in a bowl, where I keep it after I pour up the last ferment. This is because my only other gallon jar is holding my backup SCOBYs. It is soaking in some of the last brew. I cover it with a plate while I’m brewing the tea. Here it is, in the bowl:
SCOBY

Weird looking, huh? Okay, here comes the weirder part. I’m going to pour the brew from the bowl into the tea and then pick up the SCOBY and place it on top, like so:
holding SCOBY

and

ready to ferment

You have to be sure your hands are totally clean when you do this. And make sure they’re dry so you don’t have chlorine on your hands. In fact, make sure everything is very clean, because you don’t want to grow something unwanted. Like mold. (Eww) Sometimes I move it around to get as many air bubbles out as I can. Sometimes it sinks to the bottom. So far, it’s always brewed more kombucha and grown another thin SCOBY. I keep my extras in the fridge in a SCOBY hotel in case mine meets a sudden demise.

Make sure the edge is dry all around the top of the jar, then put a piece of cheesecloth over it and hold it in place with a rubber band.
ready for cupboard

Now it’s ready for a nice warm spot. I keep mine in the cupboard. Brew time can take from one to three weeks. Mine is ready at seven to nine days. (Nine if I forget to pour it up) Keep checking and you’ll figure out in time how you like yours to taste. Mine has a slightly sour taste, which is not unpleasant at all. It’s not strong, doesn’t burn, and doesn’t taste like vinegar to me, but doesn’t taste sweet either. It’s kind of like the sour you’d get from squeezing some lemon in. So, maybe tart is a better word than sour. Yeah, tart. Once it’s ready, I pour it up into my bottles. I used the kind with stopper tops. (Bought them at Marshall’s/Home Goods) You can also use old kombucha bottles if you have some saved. Once you pour it up, you can then add some flavoring if you like. I have been adding some elderberries, because they are supposed to be great for the immune system and for fighting colds and flu. I buy them here. I put about 2 tablespoons in the jar and then pour the tea in. I don’t like to fill mine all the way to the top.
elderberry kombucha

The berries will float to the top.
elderberries at top

I then let it sit out for the rest of the day and put it in the fridge before I go to bed. It’s ready to drink the next day, but it gets better after a couple of days and the berries have had time to infuse. I use a little strainer when I pour it into my glass. Sometimes I’ll mash the berries, then throw them away, and sometimes I’ll pour them back into the bottle. So good!
straining the berries

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade. Check it out to see what other food renegades are doing/eating/learning!

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GF Red Enchiladas

May 16, 2011

gf red enchiladas

I decided to take some pictures and post the recipe for this about halfway through the process. For this reason, I don’t have any pictures of the sauce being made. However, it’s quite simple, so hopefully it won’t matter. And since I’ll likely be making these again very soon, I’ll update this post with pictures of the sauce.

Red Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef (grass-fed)
1 Tbs butter or ghee
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion granules (or 1/4 med onion, diced small)
1/4 cup red chile powder (I used this and this)
1 Tbs arrowroot powder1
2-4 cups water + 2 Tbs

Melt butter in stock pan. Add ground beef and spices (not chile) and cook till done and crumbly. (If you are using grass-fed beef, the amount of grease in the pan shouldn’t be excessive) Add red chile powder and mix well. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. In small bowl, mix arrowroot powder with 2 Tbs of water well. Add 2 cups of water to meat mixture. It should just cover the meat. If not, add more until covered. Add arrowroot water and mix well. Turn very low and cover. Let simmer on low for 20-30 minutes, then make crepes.

Enchiladas

Red sauce (above)
8-9 eggs (pastured, if possible)
1/4 tsp of butter or ghee
1 tsp cumin (optional)
1 tsp garlic salt or granules (optional)
3 cups cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

In small frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. (I set my electric burner between 4 and 5; the highest setting is 9) While pan heats, beat eggs with cumin and garlic salt/granules till whites and yolks are fully mixed. Pour an amount of egg mixture equal to 1/2 an egg into pan, immediately swirling around pan to cover all the bottom. It should be very thin. (If it doesn’t cover, you can take a spoon and fill in the empty spots with egg mix) Cook until top begins to look dry, about 1 minute. Flip and cook for 30 seconds.
crepe
See how the nearest edge looks dry and is sort of sticking up? I like to grab that part and flip it. Be careful if it doesn’t flip well. Let it cook a few seconds before trying to straighten it, otherwise it will tear.
Remove to 9×13″ baking pan. Pour more egg mix into pan. While crepe is cooking, sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of cheese onto center of cooked crepe. With slotted spoon, remove about 3 tablespoons of meat from sauce (does not need to be completely dry) and place on top of cheese. Fold ends of crepe up and overlap them on top. Turn seem side down and place at narrow end of pan.
rolling enchiladas
Though it’s not shown here, the one open end of the crepe should be touching the long side of the pan and 2 crepes should be placed longways to fill in the side (see picture below of second row).

You may have to stop mid-way through rolling to flip the crepe that’s cooking. Remove from pan and repeat process. Once you have completed one row, sprinkle a small amount (about 1/4 cup) of cheese over the top and drizzle over all with red sauce.
Preheat oven to 350o and while oven heats, repeat process for second row. It should look like this:
enchiladas rolled

At this point, you should have about 2 cups of sauce left. Pour this all over the top of the crepes, then cover with remaining 3/4 cup of cheese (or desired amount). It should look like this:
ready to bake

and this:
side view

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Garnish plate with chopped salad greens and diced tomato (I was out). Top with fresh yogurt or sour cream, if desired. I’m usually pretty modest about my cooking, but to me this was every bit as good as enchiladas made with corn tortillas. The consistency and look was nearly identical.

Red enchiladas with fresh yogurt

Note: I have an alternate post for gf green enchiladas here, where I make all the crepes prior to putting the enchilada together. If you make the crepes first, then assemble the enchilada, be sure not to stack them right on top of each other. Stack them off-center on a plate or piece of parchment paper.

1For those who prefer not to use arrowroot powder or any type of thickener, you can cook 1/2 an onion, diced, in some butter in a separate pan till soft, then combine with about a cup of the finished sauce (try to get sauce only, no meat) and blend in blender (or use an immersion blender). This will create a thicker sauce. Add back to pan of meat sauce.

This recipe is very forgiving. You can adjust according to your tastes. Any questions? Ask me in the comment section and I’ll reply as soon as possible.

This post is part of the following blog carnivals:

Real Food Wednesdays hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Hearth and Soul hosted by A Moderate Life
Traditional Tuesdays hosted by Cooking Traditional Foods.
Monday Mania hosted by The Healthy Home Economist.

Check them out for real food ideas!

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Low Carb Broccoli, “Rice,” and Cheese

May 10, 2011

How can rice be low carb? When it’s faux rice. Faux rice is riced cauliflower, like I used in my Best GF Pizza post. In fact, it was the taste of the crust mix prior to cooking that was reminiscent of broccoli, rice, and cheese casserole. So I decided to put it together with broccoli and see how it turned out. I loved the taste. I love the color the turmeric gave it, especially since turmeric is so good for us. It and the eggs gave it that nice shade of yellow (I’ll call it Rice-A-Roni yellow), even though the cheese I used was white. I love that it both tasted and looked like broccoli, rice, and cheese!

Low Carb Broccoli, “Rice,” and Cheese

Ingredients:

2 10oz bags of frozen cauliflower (or 1 head fresh)
1 10oz bag of frozen broccoli florets (or 1/2 fresh)
2 Tbs butter
3 cups grated cheese
2 eggs
2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp turmeric (optional)
1/2 tsp coriander (optional)

Remove cauliflower and broccoli from freezer, if frozen. Shred or finely chop cauliflower. (This is the most time consuming part of this dish) Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add cauliflower and cook over medium heat until soft, but still retaining its shape, about 10 minutes. When done, remove from heat.
cauliflower cooking in ghee

In a large bowl mix grated cheese, eggs, and spices.
cheese, eggs, and spices

I used Dubliner cheese from Kerrygold (bought it at Costco).
Dubliner cheese

I love experimenting with spices!
Spice mix

Add cauliflower and mix well. Return to pan and return to heat, reduced to low. Rough chop broccoli then add to pan and mix well. Heat through until broccoli is warm and cheese is melted.

So good and good for you!

This post was submitted to the following blog carnivals:

Fight Back Fridays @ Food Renegade. Be a real food renegade!
Traditional Tuesdays at Cooking Traditional Foods. Check it out for nourishing food ideas!
Real Food Wednesdays over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop. Lots of great recipes and information there too!

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Best GF Pizza

May 9, 2011

Slice of pizza

When I first heard of this pizza crust I thought it sounded interesting, to say the least. It does sound like a strange ingredient for a pizza crust. What is it? Cauliflower. Yes, that’s right; cauliflower! I came across this recipe when I was looking for the recipe for faux rice. (Frice?) I was going to make some stir fry and wanted to have something to put it on, rather than our usual meal of stir fry alone. It had been so long since I’d made faux rice, I couldn’t remember exactly how I’d made it. Anyway, after we had our stir fry dinner, I had some leftover cauliflower. I remembered another recipe I’d seen while looking for the faux rice. It was for a pizza crust that called for grated, cooked cauliflower. I really didn’t have high expectations for this pizza crust. I’m not a big fan of cauliflower and it isn’t easy to disguise its taste. Imagine my surprise when it turned out delicious and my family loved it! So, without further ado (and including my tweaks), I give you cauliflower pizza!


Best Grain-free Pizza (Ever!)

makes 1 medium pizza

Ingredients:

1 cup grated, cooked cauliflower (see first step)
1 egg
1 cup cheese
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic salt
Optional: 1 tsp cumin and/or 1/2 tsp turmeric
pizza, marinara, or spaghetti sauce (approx. 1/4 cup)
additional grated cheese and other toppings

NOTE: Please see update further down for an optional (easier) way of preparing the cauliflower!

I first prepare the cauliflower by separating into florets.
cauliflower

Like so:
separating florets (You can bypass this step by using frozen florets; I’ve done it by letting them partially thaw. One 10 oz. bag frozen yields 1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower)

Then grate the cauliflower. I did this with a cheese grater, but it would probably be quicker and easier with a food processor, using the grater attachment. I have to admit, grating on a cheese grater is kind of tricky. You can also fine chop with a knife and cutting board.
Shredded cauliflower

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter or ghee in a large frying pan. Add cauliflower and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Cauliflower is done when it is no longer crunchy and a small amount can be mashed with a fork. (The old “mash a spoonful with a fork” test)
cauliflower cooking in butter

Let cool slightly and you are ready to begin.
UPDATE: To simplify this recipe, I’ve started preparing the cauliflower differently. I steam it (fresh or frozen) until soft, then drain the water out of the pan. I put the cauliflower back in the pan (minus the steamer insert) and add about a tablespoon of butter (or coconut oil), just enough to keep it from sticking to the still-hot pan. Then I mash it with a fork, not so much it looks like mashed potatoes, but just enough that it still retains enough form to look like rice. (You can experiment here) Proceed with recipe.

Preheat oven to 450o. Prepare pan by greasing well, lining with parchment, or do what I did; use a silpat type mat. Mix all ingredients (except sauce and toppings) in a bowl. (If cauliflower is still hot, mix cheese, eggs, and spices well, then add cauliflower) Place mixture in the center of the pan and spread outward, forming a thin circle.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, watching near the end. You want the top to be somewhat browned and the edge all browned. (Leave oven on for final step)
cooked pizza crust

Add sauce and spread evenly over crust. When I don’t have a sauce on hand, I’ll use tomato sauce and season it with more basil, oregano, and garlic salt.
pizza and sauce

Add your favorite toppings.
pizza with toppings
Here I’ve used cooked ground beef (grass-fed), sliced black olives, sliced bell peppers (green, red, and yellow), and sliced onion.
Top with cheese. As you can see, we like a lot.
pizza with cheese

Turn oven to broil, place pizza underneath broiler, and broil just until cheese is melted (approx. 3 minutes).
Edited to add: I prefer to return it to a 450o oven for about 3 minutes to keep the edges from getting too dark.
baked pizza

Slice and serve. This pizza will hold up on its own to eat without utensils. Updated note: The larger the pizza, the less likely it is to remain sturdy enough to pick up and eat. I’ve found making 2 smaller pizzas works best.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

This post is part of the following blog carnivals:
Fight Back Fridays hosted by Food Renegade
Monday Mania hosted by the Healthy Home Economist

Be sure to visit them for more great meal ideas!

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Grain-free Spicy Meatloaf

May 8, 2011

Meat loaf, sweet potato latke, salad
Meatloaf, sweet potato latke, and salad with kombucha-ginger dressing.

Even though I’ve posted my friend (Rachel’s) meatloaf recipe before, and love it as is, I decided to do a post on a grain-free version for those who are following a gluten or grain-free diet (like us). It also gives me the opportunity to share how I tweaked the recipe for a new addition: hot wing sauce. I saw this mentioned in an online conversation the other day and it sounded interesting. In spite of my wonderful husband giving his best shot at taking me out to eat for Mother’s Day, I opted for staying home and staying on track with our diet. Especially since I blew it the other day when we went out and ate sushi. I even cooked a roast yesterday, so I wouldn’t have to do any cooking today, other than heating up food. But the idea of this recipe had me craving some wing sauce. I had to “wing” it (pun intended), because I only had two pounds of ground beef thawed and the recipe calls for three. That recipe is for two meatloaves, one for now and one for later. That would be easy to divide in half, but working with two-thirds of the meat called for more math than I wanted to think about. Here’s what I ended up using.

Spicy meatloaf ingredients

GF Spicy Meatloaf

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground meat (I used grass-fed beef)
2 eggs (farm fresh, pastured)
1 cup organic salsa
1/2 cup wing sauce1 (I confess, I used Franks)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion granules
3/4 cup almond flour (I used 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup coconut flour)

Preheat oven to 400o. Put all ingredients except meat in a large bowl and mix well. I usually do this with my hand, but was concerned about the wing sauce staining; I found I was able to mix it well with a fork.
Mix all ingredients except meat

Add meat and mix until well combined (again, I used a fork). Put into large loaf pan.
Meatloaf ready to bake

I was able to fill it that full without worrying about grease spilling over, because grass-fed meat is usually lower in fat. Bake for 45 minutes or until done in center. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. (By letting it cool, it absorbs some of the grease, which is minimal if you are using grass-fed meat; besides, fat from grass-fed animals is good for you)

I’d say it turned out pretty well. It certainly satisfied my craving for wing sauce and my family proclaimed it “Mom’s Day Nom!”

1 If you don’t care for spicy food, replace wing sauce with tomato sauce. Ingredients in Franks are:
* Aged Cayenne Red Peppers
* Garlic Powder
* Distilled Vinegar
* Natural Flavor
* Water
* Salt
Not bad for a processed food. Other than distilled vinegar. And natural flavor…whatever that is.

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