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Archive for October, 2011

Gluten-free Vegan Apple Cobbler

First off, I know the name makes this dessert sound so far off from the traditional cobblers that we all know and love. How can a cobbler be good without flour or butter? I am sure you are thinking this tastes like a healthy hippie dessert, made from sticks and dirt. WRONG. You really would never know that the gluten or the dairy is missing in this one. It is full of flavor and is so deliciously satisfying. My husband, Mark, is a southern boy who loves his cobbler. He actually gets angry at crisps and how “stupid they are” (in his words). Whenever we head down south, he seeks out cobbler on every trip. He loved this cobbler, he kept telling me he couldn’t believe it was gluten-free! He of course served a big ‘ol scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of it, but I can’t really blame him.

I honestly was playing around with this recipe thinking it would likely not work on the first try and I would have to try it again and again to get it right, so I am pretty shocked that it not only worked, but it was absolutely delicious. I plan to make it again in a smaller pan next time, so both the apple filling and the cobbler topping are a bit thicker, but that is just a personal preference. When I loaded the apples into the pan it looks like so much, but as it cooked down it definitely sunk in a bit, so maybe the answer is more apples. I liked that the cobbler topping got a bit brown and crisp and I love how beautiful it looked as it baked and sunk in around the apples pieces. The spices were perfect, the topping was crisp and perfectly doughy and the sweetness level was exactly where it needed to be. Obviously everyone’s personal sweet tooth is a little different plus the sweetness of the apples may affect how sweet the filling is, so taste your apple filling before you put the topping on, you may find that you want more sugar. I personally don’t like excruciatingly sweet desserts. Plus, since it isn’t disgustingly sweet it would also make a delicious breakfast, if you are into that sorta thing.

Speaking of sweet, feel free to play around with sweetener options too, I had wanted to use coconut sugar, but I finished off what I had in the pantry on the pumpkin bread. You could also play around with using honey or maple syrup as the sweetener in the apple filling. Just remember if you use a liquid sweetener in the cobbler topping, to adjust your flours accordingly. Also, if you aren’t vegan and you absolutely need to have butter in your cobbler, you could certainly substitute butter for the palm oil shortening. I just really wanted to try making this without butter. I am so excited that this cobbler came together and it’s so incredibly delicious, plus low in sugar (just a half cup in the whole recipe), no butter and gluten-free. I am so proud of this!

Gluten-free Vegan Apple Cobbler

Gluten-free Vegan Apple Cobbler

 

Gluten-free Vegan Apple Cobbler
serves 6

Apple Cobbler Filling
2 1/2 pounds (or more) peeled apples – I used a mix of Crispin’ and Honeycrisp apples
1/4 cup organic raw cane sugar or coconut sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cobbler topping
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup organic raw cane sugar or coconut sugar (plus a little bit more to sprinkle on top)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground (plus a little bit more to sprinkle on top)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1/4 cup unsweetened organic almond milk, you may need less
4 tablespoons chilled organic palm oil shortening (you can use unsalted butter here instead, if you wish)

Preheat the oven to 375º F.

Make the cobbler topping first. Combine almond flour, sorghum flour and tapioca start with the salt, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut the pieces of shortening into the flour mixture until it comes together, it should be like coarse sand. Pour in the almond milk, a little at a time, continuing to stir until it all just starts to come together. You may not need all of the almond milk, so don’t add it in too quickly. It will feel a bit sticky, don’t worry.

Form the dough into a ball using your hands and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place it into the fridge while you peel the apples. Once the apples are peeled, core them and cut them into thin slices or small cubes, place them in your baking pan and drizzle them with the lemon juice and set them aside. (I used a 11″ x 7″ pan, but I think next time I would use my 8″ x 8″ pan.)

Take the dough out of the fridge, it should be a bit firmer now and roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Don’t press too hard, just enough to flatten it out into a square the size of the pan. Place the rolled out square onto a baking sheet and place it into freezer, let it chill while you finish preparing the apple filling.

Add the sugar, spices and vanilla to the apples, toss gently to combine everything. Check on your dough, if it seems nice and firm and chilled, pull it out and gently lay it over the top of the apples, it is definitely a tricky maneuver but you can do it. I just peeled the parchment paper off of one side and flipped that size down on top of the apples, then I carefully peeled the other parchment sheet off the top. If any of the dough rips or peels off, hangs over, etc – you can just easily fix it up with your hands. The dough is really forgiving and it definitely doesn’t have to be perfect. If all else fails and your cobbler topping is being a jerk, or it’s too sticky, just spoon it on top biscuit style, it will still be totally delicious.

Sprinkle another teaspoon or so of sugar on top of the cobbler as well as a little sprinkle of cinnamon. Place the pan in the oven and bake the cobbler for 35-40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is brown and firm. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.

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Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts

Well, the last week has been another crazy one for us. We have a ton of awesome projects happening, we had our Fab.com sale and we were in Birmingham, Alabama meeting with a client and taking reference photos of the city for some illustration work we are doing for them. It has been a fun whirlwind. Of course, this means my time in the kitchen has been limited and therefore my posts on here limited, as well. I have had some fun ideas for things I want to make, but finding the time has been difficult. Thankfully, I made a big batch of delicious pasta (inspired by a post on Pinterest) last weekend and have been living off of it all week. I made my version with gluten-free penne, butternut squash, dried cranberries, sliced fennel and a bit of parmesan. It was simple to make and I made a large enough amount, so it worked perfect for dinners and lunches on the fly all week, when I didn’t have the time or the ingredients to make anything else.

After taking some time last night to plan a few meals for the week, I finally was able to get to the farmers market and the grocery store this morning to stock up. Even though I had some work to get done, our assistant was here helping us print posters and it was generally a madhouse, I wanted to make the time this morning, regardless of all that was going on, to bake some pumpkin bread, to use up one of the pie pumpkins I have had for a few weeks.

When creating this recipe, I decided that the bread had to include the typical lovely spices that sing so beautifully with pumpkin, a nut or seed of some kind and I wanted something else. I was debating between dried cranberries or some other dried fruit or chocolate chips and then I thought of crystallized ginger bits. I thought they would compliment the pumpkin and other spices perfectly. I was right, the combination of pumpkin and the spices with the walnuts and the ginger was perfection. There is a subtle kick from the ginger that is so nice. This bread isn’t too sweet, so it would be perfect as breakfast or dessert. It would also be great with a thin layer of butter or cream cheese spread on. You could leave out the ginger and nuts or substitute whatever you’d like there, pecans, pistachios or any other nut or seed would be great, as well as raisins, dried currants, cranberries, chocolate chips, etc. Have fun with it.

I’ve really been enjoying creating my own blends of flours for baking, either individually for each recipe, or in a large batch as an all-purpose blend to use for a couple different recipes. I really love Gluten-free Girl’s ratio of 70% whole grains plus 30% starches for creating a great gluten-free whole-grain all-purpose flour that you don’t need to add xanthan gum to. It is so versatile since you can really use whatever you have on hand or can easily find at the store in any amounts or combinations, as long as the ratio remains 70% to 30%. I definitely have my favorite flours that I use all the time, but this ratio is so great for people with other food sensitivities to nuts or corn, etc.

This time around I created a 700 gram blend of almond, millet, buckwheat and teff flours and then added in a 300 gram blend of tapioca and arrowroot starches. I mixed them all together and placed them in a large storage container. I used just 250 grams of that all-purpose blend for this bread and I put the rest aside for another recipe. You could certainly use just one flour and one starch if you don’t feel like blending or buying multiples, but I have really found that a couple of different types of flours and starches really builds a much better base. See the list below that Shauna recommends and play around with what you love.

Shauna recommends the following grains for the blend:
Almond
Amaranth
Brown Rice
Buckwheat
Corn
Millet
Oat
Quinoa
Sorghum
Sweet Brown Rice
Teff

and the following starches:
Arrowroot
Cornstarch
Potato Starch
Tapioca Flour
White Rice Flour

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts

 

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Crystallized Ginger and Walnuts
Makes one loaf

2 large farm fresh brown eggs (use an egg-replacer to make vegan)
3/4 cup coconut sugar (regular raw sugar, maple sugar, sucanat or brown sugar would also work)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh pureed pumpkin (canned will also work)
1/4 cup almond milk (cow’s milk or other non-dairy milk will also work)

250 grams of your favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour blend – see above notes on what I used (this can be anywhere between 1 1/2 – 2 cups of flour depending on what you are using, but I really recommend weighing)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, roughly chopped into little bits (reserving approximately 1 tablespoon for the topping)
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped into little bits (reserving approximately 1 tablespoon for the topping)

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease and flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt, baking soda and baking powder) together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In the large bowl of your stand mixer, beat the eggs and coconut sugar together until very well combined and fluffy. Approximately 3-5 minutes. Slowly while the mixer is running, pour the oil into the sugar and egg mixture, then add in the pumpkin, almond milk and vanilla, allow the mixture to mix another a minute or two until everything is well combined.

Then add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl with the wet ingredients. A little at a time, while the mixer is running on a low-speed. Mix until well blended. Then fold the crystallized ginger and walnuts into the batter. Mix the remaining crystallized ginger and walnuts together and set aside.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the ginger and walnut mixture all over the top. Place on the center rack in the oven and back until the top is golden brown, about an hour. Make sure a cake tester or knife comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then gently turn the bread out of the pan (being careful not to knock all the nuts and ginger off) and allow it to finish cooling on a wire rack.

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Besides cooking, I rarely share with you the other major love of my life, design. My husband and I work for ourselves and we run, Hero Design Studio. We specialize in hand crafted design, illustration and print making. In addition to created limited edition posters for bands and cultural institutions, we also have an extensive line of our own products, from art prints to greeting cards to t-shirts, all hand silkscreen printed, by us in our home-based studio. So,when I’m not in the kitchen creating, I’m creating somewhere else. We both feel quite fortunate to do what we love every single day, with the person we love more than anything. I wake up every single day feeling blessed to have a life full of passion.

I honestly could carry on and talk about what we do and the love we have for our work, all day long, I think this is partially why I love cooking and keeping this blog so much, it’s a great way for me to escape that part of my brain and my emotions for a while and it allows me to create, but a completely different way.

There are obviously many similarities and crossovers between my design career and my love of cooking, baking and blogging about it, some of which you can see visually, like the kitchen and cooking related art prints I have created for our product line. I decided, even though it feels a bit like an advertisement, to share with you a sale we have going right now on Fab.com. It features some of the cooking and food related prints I’ve created, so I thought some of you maybe interested. For those of you that just want recipes and food stuff, sorry for this post 😉

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What is Fab.com, you ask? Fab.com is an amazing member-only website thats features daily design inspirations and sales at up to 70% off retail.

Our sale started today, Tuesday, October 25 at 11am EST, it will last for just 72 hours and it’s available only to Fab.com members. Not a Fab.com member yet? It’s FREE and invite-only, so just go ahead and use this invite link to become a member.

With special discounts to Fab.com members of 30% – 40% off of our regular retail prices, our sale will feature a ton of our hand silkscreen printed rock posters and art prints, our city art prints, greeting cards and more. We are also debuting four brand new exclusive art prints at Fab.com discounted rates, available only to Fab.com members.

The sale is over in just 72 hours and some quantities are very limited, so don’t wait. The sale will be live here and again, if you aren’t yet a Fab.com member, just sign up here.

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Apple Spice Cake

This afternoon when I took a break from work to have lunch, I was struggling to figure out what to make since our fridge is looking a bit bare. We are leaving Monday morning to go to Birmingham for a job we are working on, so we are nearing the end of the planned meals and the groceries I bought earlier in the week. As I sat thinking for a minute, it came to me, I made a chickpea, kale, sun-dried tomato salad with goat cheese and a homemade multi-grain mustard vinaigrette, on the side I toasted up one of those delicious gluten-free multi-grain rolls I had made earlier in the week and topped it with a tad bit of garlic butter and small sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano. As I was “whipping” this all up, Mark sat down to eat his lunch, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and he started laughing at me and my creation. First he told me how jealous he was of my lunch and that he wished he had waited to see what I came up with. Then, he asked ‘what is your first memory of really loving good food. Like, at what age do you remember thinking, THIS is really good food?’

It was such a good question, I really had to think about it. I didn’t really have one solid memory, I just always remember loving good home-cooked food. Besides the traditional and super delicious Greek foods my dad and his family always made for holidays and the like, my parents cooked dinner every single night for us. My dad did the majority of the cooking, my mom most of the baking, but my mom had some really classic and comforting dishes, that I still think very fondly of now as an adult. One of my favorite memories growing up, that I always think of, was when my mom would make her homemade tomato sauce, totally from scratch, and the whole house would fill with the amazing smell of her sauce. I love my mom’s sauce so much. I used to come into the kitchen quite often while it would simmer away and grab the spoon and take a huge taste. I would sometimes grab a bowl from the cupboard and just ladle a ton of the sauce into it, maybe a meatball or two and just spoon it into my mouth like soup. It was so good. She never bought the jarred spaghetti sauce crap. It was that way for almost everything my family made. There was a major emphasis on homemade food. I am sure that is a large part of where I got my love of food and cooking from.

I asked Mark what he remembers and he told me about him being really young and biting into a really good ham sandwich and think “woah, this ham sandwich is REALLY really good” – haha. I can totally see a young, adorable little Mark all excited about his ham sandwich, likely served with some southern style sweet tea or orange soda on the side.

Can you remember the first time you really realized your love for good, home cooked food? Were you a kid? Or did you not really realize your love of food until you were an adult?

I made this cake yesterday morning. I was going to my sister’s apartment for a party in the evening and she asked everyone to bring a snack and something to drink. Since I knew there would be tons of savory snack options and wine, I decided I wanted to bring a healthy fall inspired dessert and some spiced rum and apple cider. At first I thought about making my gluten-free apple crisp (well really it’s my Mom’s recipe), but then I thought up the idea of an apple cake made with some of that great almond flour that I am obsessed with and just a tad bit of honey and dates as the sweetener. Look at me, all confident after my cookie recipe last week. I baked a cake, guys! My own cake with my own recipe.

The cake turned out great, I honestly have to say I was a little surprised, I had visions of the entire thing sinking in, or just being totally tasteless. It was the right amount of moist, which I honestly was a bit worried about, it seemed like so many wet ingredients to me. The spices all sang in perfect harmony with the apples and the dates and the small amount of honey surprisingly made it the perfect amount of sweet. I honestly hate super sweet cake, I think that is one of the reasons I don’t care for most cakes.

I cut into the cake to take photos to post the recipe here on the blog, but I didn’t taste it before I brought it to my sister’s. It seemed kinda tacky to show up with a whole cake, with one piece missing. So I served it up and crossed my fingers! Every one that tried it, loved it and some even asked for the recipe! Yay – success! This cake is gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free, it is also easily made vegan by substituting maple syrup for the honey.

Apple Spice Cake

Apple Spice Cake
 Serves 8-10

2 cups blanched almond flour (meal) – I like Honeyville
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup apple cider (unsweetened) (you could also try unsweetened apple sauce)
1/4 cup grape seed oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (cow’s milks or other non-dairy milk should work as well)
1/2 cup honey (use maple syrup to make vegan)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 peeled and chopped medium-sized apples, reserve half (or more) of one peeled apple to slice thinly for the top of the cake (I used two very large Crispin apples that we picked last weekend at Blackman Homestead Farm)
8 or so Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped

Optional add ins:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nut
1/2 cup raisins or craneberries

Topping:
1 tablespoon brown sugar or raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly flour (I used sweet rice flour) a 9″ springform pan.

In a large mixing bowl, add the almond flour, chickpea flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, all the spices and the salt. Whisk together well so it’s all evenly mixed.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together well the apple cider, grape seed oil, almond milk, honey, lemon juice and vanilla. Add the apple pieces and the finely chopped dates. Mix well to incorporate.

Pour the wet ingredients into dry and stir by hand to combine. Be sure it is well mixed and there are no flour lumps.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared springform pan and top with the remaining apple slices in a circular pattern . Use as many or as few slices as you’d like. (I actually wish I had used a few more apple slices, but I was afraid to overdo it.) Mix together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake.

Bake the cake for about 60-70 minutes or until a tester or a very thin knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for about 15-20 minutes, or longer before removing the ring on the springform pan, you may need to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a think spatula or knife. Slice with a sharp knife and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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Sweet Potato & Black Bean Patties

I have really fallen in love with vegetarian patties, burgers, croquettes, etc. It is such a fun change of pace for dinner and as long as you don’t deep fry them in an ungodly amount of oil, they still satisfy that urge for crispy fried stuff while still being healthy. Honestly, I am not one for fried foods, never really have been – though sometimes it is hard to walk away from good crappy french fries. They are my weakness, I will admit it. Whenever I make these types of patties I cook them in just a tablespoon or two of really good extra-virgin olive oil, so they get crisp on the outside but they are still healthy and you get the wonderful benefits and flavors of olive oil. None of that deep-frying in gross oils that don’t have any health or nutritional value. These particular patties are great because they are not only gluten-free but they are also vegan. There aren’t any weird ingredients, replacements or gums. If you aren’t gluten-free, feel free to use regular breadcrumbs and your favorite all-purpose flour. That’s it.

These sweet potato and black bean patties might be my new favorite of the bunch. They have a delicious crispy crunch on the outside and are so perfectly tender and soft on the inside. They are so full of flavor and made a perfect dinner by serving two of them on top of some baby arugula.  I just top them with a spoonful of fresh pico de gallo and cilantro. A delicious creamy and spicy yogurt sauce or sour cream would also be delicious. I only cooked up 4 of them for us for dinner the first night and then refrigerated the rest of the patties. They are so easy to just pull of out the fridge and heat up quickly for lunches. If you wanted these to be a smaller bite for an appetizer or snack, just make the patties a bit smaller, so they can be easily picked up with one hand, instead of requiring a fork and plate.

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Patties

(Makes about 15 patties – more or less depending on how big you make your patties)

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks (this was about 3 medium-sized potatoes for me)
1 cup cooked organic black beans, divided into two 1/2 cup servings
½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs*
3 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour* plus more if you need it (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chile powder (I used ground smoked chipotle powder)
1 large garlic clove, minced
4 green onions, both white and green parts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, roughly chopped
2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if you need it

A small handful of fresh cilantro plus fresh pico de gallo for serving.

Fill a medium saucepan with water, add the sweet potato chunks and cover. Cook over a medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes until very tender. Drain in a colander until very dry.

Once dry, place sweet potato chunks in a large mixing bowl with 1/2 cup of the black beans and mash with a potato masher to break up the big bits. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of beans, salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, flour, garlic, cilantro and green onions, and mix with your hands to form a smooth batter. Make sure that the breadcrumbs and flour are mixed throughout and there are not huge chunks of potato. If the mixture is too wet, add more flour. It should be quite sticky though.

In a non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over a medium-high heat. Form round, flat patties about 3-inches in diameter (this is about three tablespoons of batter per patty). Cook four or more at a time for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer finished patties to a paper towel-lined plate to cool slightly. Add more oil as needed to continue cooking the remaining patties. If you wish to save the rest to cook later, form the patties and place on a plate covered in plastic wrap. They can stay in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Pull them out from your fridge and cook as mentioned above.

Serve the patties topped with some fresh chopped cilantro and a spoonful of fresh pico de gallo (or whatever favorite fresh salsa you have on hand). You could also top with a creamy chipotle yogurt sauce or whatever other toppings you wish.

* regular breadcrumbs and all-purpose flour will work just fine if you aren’t gluten intolerant.

Here are a couple of my other favorite patty, burger and croquette recipes:

Gluten-Free Lentil Burgers
Gluten-Free Lentil Burgers

White Bean and Chive Patties
White Bean and Chive Patties

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Quinoa Croquettes with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

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Wild Rice and Spinach Patties

Chickpea Croquettes (Gluten-Free) with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
Chickpea Croquettes (Gluten-Free) with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

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Concord Grape Jam

Concord Grape Jam

I got an email a few weeks ago from Farmers & Artisans, an amazing local shop that features produce, dairy and meat from local farms. They were offering 4 and 8 quart baskets of Concord grapes from Blackman Homestead Farm in Lockport. I decided with how much I am in love with my juicer right now, I need to buy the 8 quart basket, so I could experiment with making juice and trying to make jam for the first time. I never buy jam at the store because I hate all the preservatives, but occasionally I will buy a jar from the farmers market. I was a little concerned about the jam making since I had never done it before and I really didn’t have a great way to remove the seeds as I don’t have a food mill. I made jam twice, trying out two different methods to see which would work best. The first way, I added the grapes whole to the food processor, with the sugar and pulsed them a few times to break them down and mash em up. Then I cooked the jam down, allowing it to thicken. Once it seemed like it had cooked down enough and was quite thick, I ran it through a strainer to remove the seeds. The only problem with this method is that not only did it remove the seeds, but it also removed the thick hunks of gooey goodness (the natural pectin) that makes jam what it is. I ended up with more of a Concord Grape sauce or thinner jelly. I tried adding it back to the saucepan to allow it to thicken more, but it just didn’t do it. The jam needed bits of the skins and more of the natural pectin. All was not lost, I have been spooning the first batch of jam over granola and oatmeal, it would also be great drizzled over ice cream or yogurt or in a smoothie.

So, the second time around I decided to separate the skins from the flesh or pulp (and therefore the seeds) of the grapes, one by one. It sounds kinda tedious, and I guess it kinda was, but I didn’t mind, I knew it would be worth it. Then I pulsed the skins with the sugar in the food processor and cooked that down on its own, cooking the pulp down in a second saucepan by itself, mashing every so often to break it down. Once the skins had cooked down quite a bit and really gotten thick and jam-like, I strained the pulp from the other saucepan through the strainer to get as much of the juice and added it to the beautiful skin mixture. It was surprising how easy the whole process was. From what I have read Concord grapes are a slip-skin variety grape so I suppose that is what made that part of the process so much easier than I had anticipated.

Concord Grape Jam

You could certainly make a larger batch and go through the hassle of canning and preserving if you wish. I am not versed at all in preserving and honestly am quite intimidated by the whole process. Maybe some day when I have a huge kitchen and tons of storage space I will experiment with it.

This jam is preservative free and is full of intense grape flavor. It is perfectly sweet and tart. I am sure you could experiment with using honey as a sweetener instead of sugar, I just wanted to go the traditional route for my first time. If I get around to experimenting with honey, I will report back.

Obviously if you have a food mill you can simply process the grapes whole with the sugar, then use your mill to remove the seeds and cook down the mixture in one pan, no need to strain.

Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Rolls

Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Rolls

I decided to fully enjoy this jam I needed to make some delicious gluten-free multi-grain rolls. I couldn’t just slop it on any ol’ store-bought bread or roll, it seemed sacrilegious. I used gluten-free girl’s recipe with a few subtle substitutions. I used tapioca starch instead of potato flour and I made my own oat flour since I couldn’t find any that was certified gluten-free. I highly recommend this recipe. These rolls are incredible and I love that the recipe is gum free (no xanthan or guar gum). They are super crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. These rolls are perfect as is with a little jam, toasted with a veggie burger, etc. The same recipe with make two boules instead of the rolls, if you wish. I thought I was in love with gluten-free girl’s previous bread recipe, but this one blows it out of the water. Try it!

Oh and by the way, I have a very small amount of grapes left – not enough to really do anything major with – so I plan to soak them in vodka to make some tasty Concord grape infused vodka!! Come on, how could it not be good?

Concord Grape Jam

Concord Grape Jam

Concord Grape Jam
makes about 1 cup
Inspired by Healthy Green Kitchen and a handful of other recipes I came across

2 lbs fresh local concord grapes, about 5 1/5 cups or so (if you can find them seedless YAY – I wasn’t that lucky)
2/3 cup organic raw sugar plus 1 tablespoon
juice from 1/2 lemon

Separate the skin from the pulp of each grape, by applying pressure to the grape with your thumb and index finger, shooting the pulp right out. It’s fun and very simple to do.

Process the grape skins with the sugar in your food processor or blender until mostly smooth but still a tad bit chunky. If you want your jam super smooth, process longer. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add the juice of half a lemon. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Watch it carefully and stir often so it doesn’t stick or scorch. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 25 minutes until it has reduced down and thickened.

Meanwhile in a smaller saucepan cook the grape pulp (insides) and 1 tablespoon of sugar over a medium-high heat, bring to a boil and mash the pulp as it cooks to break the down. Once bowling reduce the heat and allow to simmer as long as your grape skins do. Once the grape skin mixture has thickened, remove the pulp from the heat and strain through a strainer or cheesecloth to remove the seeds. Add the juice that drained out to the grape skin mixture.

Allow the jam to continue cooking another 10 minutes until thick. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if it isn’t sweet enough for you. This was plenty sweet for me. The jam will continue to thicken as it cools. Trust me. It also thickens a bit more once in the refrigerator, so down cook it down too much.

Allow the jam to cool before pouring it into a well cleaned and tightly sealing jar. This jam will keep in the refrigerator for approximately 1 month.

NOTE: I have to apologize for the lack of process photos with this post, I had intentions of showing step by step photos of the entire process. However, the morning I was making this jam it was very dark and stormy. The lighting in my kitchen was horrible and with the yucky wind and rain, I wasn’t able to tote things out to the back patio as I usually do. If you have any questions regarding the process, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)

It is pretty unbelievable to me just how much I love baking now. I actually used to despise it, I hated that seemingly every little measurement had to be perfect or you would pull it out of the oven to find it ruined, with no way to fix it. That is so different from cooking and it was way too much pressure for me. I love with cooking how no measurement has to be precise, there isn’t as much chemistry of ingredients involved so you can really play around. I got even more scared of baking when I found out I was gluten intolerant nearly 7 years ago. All the different flours, starches and gums made my head spin. I was always nervous that I would spend nearly $10 on a package of flour that I had never heard of, to just ruin the recipe and not even have a delicious treat after all that.

I have finally loosened up a bit with baking and I am really starting to enjoy it. There are so many wonderful bloggers sharing their delicious gluten-free baked good recipes that I just started out by making those, making subtle substitutions here and there. As I have done more and more baking and experimenting, I have started to see what works and what doesn’t. What flours react well together and which ones don’t. I am still far from being an expert and I very rarely just dive right in and create my own recipe completely from scratch, it still intimidates me quite a bit. However, I have started to play a lot more this year and though there have been some pretty rough flops and fails along the way, I am still enjoying it.

I decided I wanted to make a fun fall-inspired cookie this weekend. Beyond wanting something sweet but relatively healthy after my cleanse, oatmeal cookies have just sounded good for a while now. Plus, it was my birthday weekend and we had a really fun weekend of fall activities planned to celebrate my aging and the beautiful fall weather. On Friday, we played hooky from work a few hours early to head up to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the afternoon. We walked around and checked out the little shops, I did some wine tasting, we had a couples massage at the Shaw spa and we had an incredible dinner at Epicurean. It was such a fun night. On Saturday morning, I made some delicious concord grape jam (I am gonna try to get a post together, though I didn’t take any process photos since it was a very dark and rainy morning), these cookies and then we spent the rest of the day working. Saturday night my parents took us out to Mangia Ristorante to celebrate my birthday. (By the way, Mangia has some of the most delicious Italian food I have had and almost all of their pasta dishes are available with gluten-free pasta). On Sunday we woke up and went apple-picking in the morning at Blackman Homestead Farm with my sister, Vicky, and my niece, Teagan. We had so much fun. Then we came home and I made a delicious fall dinner for us – a roast chicken from Sojourner Farm, with roast acorn squash wedges and baby fingerling potatoes over arugula – all from local farms. For dessert, we had some hot spiced apple cider that I had picked up at Blackman Homestead when we were apple picking and we served it with a couple of these cookies on the side. Such a perfect way to end a perfect fall weekend. Yesterday was my actual birthday and when we were eating dinner Mark had mentioned feeling bad that we were eating cookies that I made for dessert and that there hadn’t been any cake or candles all weekend and no birthday gifts to unwrap. I explained to him that my birthday included absolutely everything that I love and I couldn’t ask for anything more. That really is the truth. I am not one for cake and to me being around the people I love is truly gift enough.

Me at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Me at Niagara-on-the-Lake

Me and Mark - apple picking at Blackman Homestead Farm
Mark and me at Blackman Homestead Farm

Teagan enjoying an apple while apple picking at Blackman Homestead Farm
My niece, Teagan, enjoying an apple while apple picking at Blackman Homestead Farm

Vicky and Teagan
My sister, Vicky and Teagan sharing an apple.

Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Beyond all the awesomeness of the events surrounding these cookies, they also made me super happy because I didn’t use a recipe – I just planned my own recipe with ingredients I knew (well, probably more like hoped) would work together. I ended up adding more oats than I had originally planned, because I knew with how the dough felt in my hands that it would be too thin. This is huge for me. A year ago I would have slopped the dough onto the baking pan and had a little fit when they came out flat and too soft. My guessing and instincts overall paid off and these cookies turned out wonderful. They are so moist and chewy, not dry at all the way some oatmeal cookies can be. They have the perfect mix of spices and I love that there is no butter or sugar in them. Just grape seed oil and honey. You could certainly replace the raisins with dried cranberries or even chocolate chips, you could add nuts and of course, you could simply use your favorite egg replacer to make them vegan.

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend as well? Did you do anything fun?

Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Chewy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (Gluten-Free)
makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

2 cups blanched almond flour (meal) – I use Honeyville brand, I don’t care for the Bob’s Red Mill almond flour
2 cups rolled oats (not instant) certified gluten-free if you are intolerant
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree (canned will work)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup organic local honey (maple syrup would be great here, too)
1 large farm fresh brown egg (or egg replacement of your choice)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins (dried cranberries would also be delicious)
1 1/2 tablespoons flaxseeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375º F, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and honey until smooth and well blended. Mix in the egg, pumpkin and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stir to combine well, add in the oats, raisins and flaxseeds, stir until everything is well combined.

Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons 2-inches apart on the baking sheets, flatten the dough gently with a fork. Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes until they are moist and soft but appear to be dull on the outside and are starting to lightly brown. Rotate the baking sheets during baking for even heating (I rotated mine every 6 minutes). Remove the cookies from the baking sheet after a few minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack. Or eat one while they are still warm, you know you want to.

Once the cookies are cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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