Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, peanut-free, nut-free, vegan)

I am very fond of my neighborhood rosemary bushes. I have an ongoing relationship with my neighbors, and they give me a delighted nod every time they see me picking their rosemary without asking. I don’t know if it’s the rosemary that I love or if it’s the sense of community that I feel by eating local organic herbs harvested among friends.

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Holiday Cookies – Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread

A recipe for rosemary cookies came through my inbox recently, and after careful review, I decided to make it gluten free! I used the same principles I applied when I made homemade baked goldfish crackers gluten free by replacing the all purpose flour with three different gluten flours — two medium weight and one lightweight. The types I chose weren’t too scientific, they were basically whatever I had on hand.

I was actually surprised by how challenging this dough was to work with. When I make these again, I will make them a day in advance and wait at least an hour in between each rolling and cutting session. The cookies that were the sturdiest and had the best shape were the ones that were the hardest when using the cookie cutter and transferring them to the baking sheet.

Easily, these cookies were the hit of the party. It was wonderful eating seasonal herbs right from our neighborhood, but they were so simple and delicious that everyone raved about them. And to think, I only brought them so my allergy-ridden son would have a dessert option. That’s the stuff that makes me smile!

Sarah’s Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Recipe adapted from Sarah McMinn’s guest post on Keepin’ It Kind

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Baking sheet lined with chocolate dipped rosemary cookies

Shortbread Ingredients

  • 2/3 c oat flour
  • 2/3 c brown rice flour
  • 2/3 tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Earth Balance sticks
  • 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate Dipping Ingredients
  • 6 ounces Enjoy Chocolate Chips
  • fresh rosemary sprigs

Tools

  • rolling pin
  • parchment paper
  • baking sheets

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and rosemary in a food processor and pulse a few times until well blended and the rosemary is evenly dispersed.
  3. In a stand up mixer combine butter and powdered sugar. Beat for a solid five minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Add vanilla and flour mixture and combine just until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn dough onto a floured piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top. Roll out the dough, using the parchment paper between the dough and rolling pin, to keep it from sticking. Place the flattened dough in the refrigerator for one hour.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and use a cookie cutter in the shape of your chocie to cut the cookies and place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  6. Return to cookie cut outs to the refrigerator for 20-30 more minutes.
  7. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely before handling.
  8. For optional chocolate drizzle, melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave in 30 second increments until melted. Use a pastry brush to evenly distribute the chocolate along the side of the cookie you choose. Add two small sprigs of rosemary for decor.
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A couple tiny sprigs of rosemary added for decor!

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Pumpkin Bread Muffins (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan)

If you are looking for a muffin that you can’t possible screw up, this is the one for you. Rather than a muffin, it’s more of a banana-bread type consistency that I put in muffin cups. It cooks at a lower temperature and for a longer period of time than usual, just like a quick bread. It’s dense and hearty for breakfast or snacks, but sweet enough for dessert. You can even bake them in donut baking tray, and the kids will be thrilled to have donuts for lunch!

I have made this recipe six times now, and I have made it differently every single time. I have doubled it (WOW that made a ton!!), halved it, forgotten one of the three flours and only used two, forgot the flax egg, used honey one time then sugar another time, used half honey half sugar, used only pumpkin and used a combination of pumpkin and delicata squash, made mini muffins and full size muffins, and used a combination of oil and grass fed ghee. The only constant is that I’ve always used homemade pumpkin or squash cooked in my crock pot. I’ve made this by myself, with my kids, and with four sets of kids in the 2nd and 3rd grade. Every time, the results are magic. Without further ado, here is the recipe!

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Both recipes were made with brown rice flour, freshly ground oat flour, and tapioca flour. On the left: recipe was halved and made with organic cane sugar and delicata squash puree / On the right: full recipe was made with honey and pumpkin puree

 

Pumpkin Bread Muffins

Recipe Adapted from Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (each egg = 1 T. flax seed meal + 3 T. warm water)
  • ⅔ c. brown rice flour*
  • ½ c. buckwheat flour*
  • ½ c. arrowroot starch**
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. honey OR ¾ c. sugar
  • ½ c. melted coconut oil or Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
  • 1¼ c. pumpkin puree or any other winter squash (canned or homemade)
  • If needed: ¼ c. cold water

*You can substitute any other medium weight flour, such as oat flour (grind your own oats in your high speed blender if you don’t have them on hand!), buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, or teff flour. Try to use two different flours for each of the medium weight flours. But, this recipe is magic, so it may work just fine with only one type!

**You can substitute any other light weight flour, such as tapioca starch, potato starch, or even organic corn starch.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Make your flax egg(s). Warm your measured water in the microwave for 30 seconds. Remove, and add flax seed meal to the warm water. Stir and let sit for 5+ minutes, or until it has an egg-like consistency. Set aside.
  3. Add all of your dry ingredients to a bowl. Stir.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the top of the dry ingredients in the same bowl.
  5. Stir as few times as possible, just until dry and wet ingredients are combined. The more you stir, the tougher your muffin bread will be.

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    Oops – My 2nd and 3rd graders over-mixed their batch!

  6. Add up to 1/4 c. of cold water to the mixture if it needs more movement.
  7. Line muffin tins with muffin liners and pour the batter into each liner until it is 3/4 full.
  8. For regular sized muffins, bake for 42-44 minutes; for mini muffins, bake for 20-22 minutes.

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    Yummy finished mini muffins and mini donuts!

Cinnamon Bun Smoothie (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, vegan)

I couldn’t possible be more excited about my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving with family, our annual tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, putting up Christmas decorations, listening to Disney holiday music, and making festive meals, desserts, and drinks tied to the fall and winter seasons. On Friday night, I watched my three kids dancing around the tree, adding all of our ornaments to the only the bottom two feet while I brewed some homemade apple cider, and I literally sat down on the couch for a moment and thought nothing could possible beat this. (Actually, it could have been slightly better if it wasn’t Disney music that was blasting, but aside from that, it really was a spectacular moment.)

The following morning, I made one of my favorite festive morning smoothies that reminds me of the holidays: a creamy and divine smoothie that tastes and smells of frothy cinnamon.

Cinnamon Bun Smoothie (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free,nut-free, peanut-free, vegan) Recipe adapted from Kim McDevitt of Vega One

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1 frozen banana OR 1 room temperature banana with four ice cubes if you prefer your smoothie cold (Be sure to peel the banana before you freeze it!)
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
  • 2 dates
  • ¼ cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maca powder

Directions

  1. Remove peel from banana and place in freezer. You can skip this step if you’re in a rush to make your shake and you don’t have a frozen banana on hand by adding a room temperature banana and 4 ice cubes.
  2. Add the nondairy milk to the blender, followed by the banana, then add the remaining ingredients. I prefer to add all of my dry ingredients at the end, so they don’t stick to the sides of the blender when I turn it on.

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    Adding the dry ingredients to the smoothie to keep it from sticking to the sides of the blender.

  3. Slowly turn on the blender, and once all of the ingredients are incorporated, turn the blender up to high until combined.

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    Creamy Cinnamon Bun Smootie (gluten-free, vegan)

  4. Enjoy!

Bulletproof Coffee

Has anyone else heard of this new meal replacement? Before you try it, READ THIS! I’d heard about it previously from a nutritionist that a cup of coffee mixed with coconut oil and grass-fed butter (also known as Bulletproof Coffee) would be a great meal replacement because of the calories and fat and a myriad of other performance-related benefits. I assumed this to be true, but about a week later I stumbled across this article in GT Weekly entitled Fat Chance: Is the butter-in-coffee fad really good for you? It turns out that it is IF AND ONLY IF you’re on a strict paleo diet. And how many people can say that they really are? Per the article:

“He’s not giving you the full story physiologically, and what he’s leaving out is really important,” says Dr. Dawn Motyka of KUSP’s Ask Dr. Dawn. For instance: “You absolutely cannot have any starch or sugar with this.” And no matter how tempting it may be, Asprey really should warn his followers not to add sugar. “That would be horrible, because then that fat is just going to circulate in your arteries; you can’t burn it.”

The trend is really only OK for people who are on a strict paleo diet—for more than just that day.

“If you’re eating paleo, after a couple of weeks your body adjusts and you produce different enzymes, and your body starts to burn fat, and when you do that that’s great, but the adaptation relies on you not eating sugars,” says Motyka.

Another article I’m digging is Bulletproof Coffee Pros and Cons, which states:

I would stay away from any radical diet plans and suggestions. The real Bulletproof body you are looking for, is built in the gym and supplied with nutrition from long term planned eating habits, such as the Mediterranean Diet, for example.

Obviously, you can find literature to support whatever view you have at any given time. However, I agree with the last quote, and just eat real food! Plants, lots and lots of plants. All colors of plants, different types of plants — a rainbow of them. I don’t know anyone who ever got sick from eating too many fruits and vegetables.

Don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite indulgences is grabbing a gourmet coffee drink and a pastry. But the next time you consider going for a cup of Bulletproof, be sure to consider it only if you’re on a strict paleo diet.

If you don’t know what a paleo diet is, then you might want to stick with a regular cup of Joe 🙂

Tandoori Roasted (or BBQ) Vegetables

Last night’s dinner yielded a fun and delicious spin on roasted veggies for dinner. Not that I don’t love roasted veggies with fresh herbs and olive oil, but why don’t I ever think about marinating the veggies first? This recipe calls for a yogurt-based marinade (I used coconut milk yogurt to keep it vegan) with Indian spices, then smothered all over blanched veggies. Yes, blanched veggies! Why didn’t I ever think of doing that to get the broccoli and cauliflower more evenly cooked? Brilliant.

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Tandoori Roasted (or BBQ) Vegetables

Tandoori Roasted Vegetable Skewers adapted from Veggie Belly

Note: I tripled the ingredients from the original recipe to feed our family of five since the original recipe only fed two. See the link above for smaller portions.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of broccoli, cut into large florets
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered

Marinade Ingredients

  • 9 Tbsp chickpea or garbanzo flour
  • 1 1/2 cups yogurt (I used two 6 oz containers of So Delicious brand plain coconut yogurt)
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp garlic paste (I used garlic powder)
  • 3 tsp ginger paste (I used ginger powder)
  • 3 tsp garam masala (I used curry powder)
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • salt, to taste

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meantime, chop the veggies.

2. Once the water is boiling, add half of the cauliflower and broccoli florets to the boiling water. After 30 seconds, remove the florets and let them cool. Run cold water over them, if needed, to prevent from further cooking. Repeat with the other half of the florets.

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Blanching the cauliflower and broccoli florets

3. Combine the marinade ingredients into a medium sized bowl, and mix well.

4. Add all of the chopped raw veggies (onions, tomatoes) and the blanched veggies (cauliflower, broccoli) to a large bowl. Cover the veggies with the marinade and mix until all of the veggies are well coated. Let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

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Adding the marinade to the raw and blanched vegetables.

5. In the meantime, turn on the oven to Hi Broil, and line a baking sheet with foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray.

6. Once the veggies have marinated, place the veggies on the baking sheet with a bit of space in between each row for easy turning during cooking. (In the alternate, you can put them on skewers and BBQ the veggies.) If you have any leftover marinade, save it to slather on the cooked veggies or use it as a dipping sauce for lunches.

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Marinated vegetables on a lined baking sheet before they go in the oven.

7. Place the baking sheet on the second to top rack, and let cook for 15 minutes or until the veggies begin to blacken.

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Broiling the vegetables on Hi.

8. Turn the veggies over using a fork or prongs to brown the other side for approximately 5 minutes or until the veggies blacken.

9. Gently lift each veggie off the plate and place in one layer on a serving platter.

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Dinnertime! Tandoori Roasted/Broiled Vegetables

Quick Tip: Chop the veggies in the morning or the night before, and make the marinade in advance! It will save you a ton of time in the kitchen, and you’ll only have to broil or BBQ your veggies for dinner!

My favorite part about this dish is that my youngest child thought the cauliflower was chicken, and about an hour after dinner, I found my daughter at the kitchen table eating the leftovers because she loved the veggies that much. Definitely a keeper.

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Round 2!

Frozen Grapes on a Toothpick

It sounds silly, but it is the simplest snack, and kids gobble them up! We made freshly squeezed lemonade in my son’s 2nd/3rd grade class today, and it was a simple customized mixture for each child that consisted of lemon juice, organic sugar, and water. But the crowd pleaser was the grape “ice cubes”! I washed the grapes the night before (this step helps create the icy outer layer), laced three grapes on each toothpick (slice grapes in half for children under age 3), then left them in the freezer overnight. I was barely able to leave the house with them because they were under attack by my children.

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Frozen Halved Grapes on a Toothpick (for children ages 3 years and younger)

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Frozen Whole Grapes on a Toothpick

Thank you, outdoor pool in Las Vegas, for the idea. They were just as fabulous to a crew of 18 moms in 100 degree weather as they were to a group of seven year olds.

Baked Goldfish Crackers!

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this recipe. My kids love goldfish, and now I have a replacement! I heard about the inventor of this recipe, Chef Chloe Coscarelli, through a Marie TV episode. If you don’t know Marie Forleo of Marie TV, she is AMAZING. She is essentially an online business coach whose motto is “Marie TV: The place to be if you want to create a business and life you love.” Her videos are fantastic, inspiring, and motivating. If you have a job you don’t love, or you know you were meant for more than what you’re doing professionally, I highly suggest you start following her NOW. But back to Chef Chloe. She is the first vegan baker who has ever won the reality show Cupcake Wars, and she now has three cookbooks out. I checked out her website and was fascinated with her homemade vegan goldfish crackers. She even has a link to buy the little teeny tiny goldfish cookie cutter shape! I printed the recipe and tried it as soon as I got home. I promised myself that if they turned out tasty that I would invest in the cookie cutter. And guess what, they’re BOMB! Consider that order placed.

Although it does contain flour in her original recipe, I am proud to say that I was able to gluten-free-anize it! My super picky 4-year old said, “Mmmm, these are good!”

Baked Homemade Goldfish Crackers (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan)

Recipe adapted from Chef Chloe’s Vegan Goldfish Crackers

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface (for gluten-free, use 1/3 cup brown rice flour, 1/3 cup sorghum flour, and 1/3 cup potato starch or tapioca starch)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (next time I may use even less because my 7-year old identified it immediately)
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric (for coloring)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional, but recommended for adults)
  • 5 tablespoons vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread. It does not taste like coconut, and it is soy-free! Be sure to use directly from the refrigerator because it melts fast, you want to use it in its solid state for this recipe.)
  • 3 tablespoons cold water (I put water in a bowl and added ice cubes, waited a minute, then measured the water from the bowl to ensure it was cold)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Add all of the dry ingredients to a food processor and process until well blended.

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3. Add the margarine to the food processor, and pulse 15 times until beads of the flour/margarine mixture form.

4. Add the cold water to the food processor, and pulse until just combined.

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll until it’s approximately 1/4″ thick.

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6. Use small cookie cutters to press into the dough, then transfer to the baking sheet.

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7.Bake for 12-15 minutes (a few minutes longer depending on the thickness and size of your crackers as they compare to the goldfish shape).

goldfish4I strongly advise storing some freshly baked ones for lunches the next day, or else they’ll all be gone as soon as they are done.