Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Blondies

I’ve never had a blondie since I’ve always preferred bars made with chocolate. Now that I no longer can have chocolate, it seems like a good time to check out blondies. I understand from watching people make them on TV that they should be very dense and moist, almost fudgy, rather than cake-like. This recipe, adapted from thebigmansworld.com, doesn’t have any flour and can be made without any sweetener as well. I opted for some date sugar which I think pumpkin really needs and added some vanilla to the mixture as well but if you want to intensify the pumpkin or sweet potato flavor, a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices would go well. Be sure to chill them thoroughly before slicing and removing from the pan. And, the smaller the pan, the thicker the blondies will be (I used an 8″ square pan for the pumpkin and an 8″ round for the sweet potato.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with non-stick cooking spray, a small baking pan (8″ or less). Put into a medium sized, microwave safe mixing bowl:

1/2 cup pumpkin seed butter (or any other butter your family likes)

Heat for about 1 minute which should thin it out a little. If you’re using roasted (brown) pumpkin seed butter or a thicker butter such as sunflower, this may take longer to melt. Add to the butter:

1 cup pumpkin or sweet potato puree

2 tablespoons carob powder

1/4 cup fine date sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes depending on the size of your baking dish – the 8″ pans took the full 20 minutes in my oven. They will puff up slightly when they are cooked. Cool on the counter for 15-20 minutes and then refrigerate and chill completely before slicing and serving. Number of pieces will also depend on the size of the pan you used – I got 9 pieces from the square pan.

Pumpkin Sticky Cinnamon Buns

Who doesn’t love a sticky bun? All gooey, finger licking delicious. But many of us find working with yeast not an easy chore. I had to start this recipe 3 times because the yeast didn’t bubble up the way it should, first had the water too hot, then too cool but the third time I got it right. The water should have the same temperature as your inner wrist so that it doesn’t feel hot or cold on your wrist, just warmth. These take some time but they are so definitely worth it.

First, preheat oven to 200. While it’s heating up in a small bowl mix together:

2 teaspoons yeast

3 tablespoons warm water (around 110 degrees, see above)

3 tablespoons agave nectar (or coconut, or honey) [I actually used date sugar at the end instead of the nectar so if it doesn’t work with the nectar try date sugar; mixture will of course be much thicker so add a little more water.]

Whisk to combine and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Yeast should start bubbling fairly quickly. If it doesn’t, throw it out and start over again. While the yeast is working, in a large bowl combine:

1 1/4 cups all purpose, gluten-free flour such as 1to1 or cup4cup

1/2 cup oat flour

1/3 cup brown rice flour

6 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

Stir to mix well. If the yeast is now activated and bubbly, stir into it:

3 tablespoons avocado oil

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (or non-dairy yogurt)

Whisk and then mix into the dry ingredients until just combined. Turn dough out onto a flat surface covered with plastic wrap and knead just until it comes together. Spray the bowl with non-stick spray and return the dough to the bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 15-20 minutes.

Turn off the preheated oven. Turn the dough back out onto the plastic wrap surface sprinkled with some of the flour and roll out to approximately 14″x10″ rectangle. Spread with a filling of:

4 tablespoons vegan margarine or avocado oil

6 tablespoons date sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Leave about 1/2″ unfilled along one of the 10″ sides to help seal the buns. Roll the dough beginning on the edge you didn’t leave unfilled and be sure to rub the last edge into the roll to seal it. Cut into 10-11 rolls* using a knife or pizza cutter (or even dental floss). Spray with non-stick cooking spray a baking dish large enough to hold the buns loosely. Or grease the dish generously with vegan margarine and sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds if desired. Place the buns in the dish, leaving space for them to rise. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the oven to rise for approximately 2 hours until they’re about doubled in size. Remove and heat the oven to 375 degrees. While the oven heats, prepare the glaze by mixing:

1/2 cup agave nectar (or coconut nectar)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup honey

*I actually cut my buns much smaller so I got 15-16 rather than the 10-11. Pour the glaze over the buns before baking.* Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on the size of the buns. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the dough part of a bun (in the middle of the pan) coming out clean means they are cooked. Remove and serve immediately. The sticky part will be on the bottom of the buns. Easily reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds per bun.

*If preferred, use a glaze after baking instead of the honey bee glaze. Whisk together:

6 tablespoons vegan margarine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar-free confectioners sugar (there’s a monk fruit based one available)

1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Pour the glaze over the buns before serving.

Sesame Chicken with vegetables

I’ve talked about how much I love Chinese food and here’s another luscious, mouth watering, easy to make dish. It’s a little spicy with the chili paste (or hot sauce) and grated fresh ginger but not too spicy but feel free to leave those out if you don’t want it spicy. And be sure to check before purchasing oriental chili paste because most of them (all the ones I looked at in the store) contain wheat flour and therefore gluten. Serves 2-4 depending on serving size and the vegetables you add.

First prepare the chicken:

12 to 16 ounces boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs

Remove skin and whatever fat and silver skin you see. Cut into bite-size chunks and place in a gallon food storage bag. Add:

1/3 to 1/2 cup corn starch (or arrowroot)

Close the bag and toss the meat around to make sure it’s entirely covered by the starch. Place in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.

In a small saucepan combine:

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces)

1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup (sugar free)*

1/2 teaspoon chili paste (or hot sauce which is what I used)

1 1/2 tablespoons date sugar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Stir to combine. In a small bowl whisk:

1/3 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)

2 teaspoons cornstarch, arrowroot or xanthan gum

Whisk to make a slurry and then pour it into the saucepan. Heat the sauce over medium heat, whisking often until it starts to heat up and you see a few bubbles from a slow boil then whisk constantly until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and add:

2 tablespoons TOASTED sesame seeds (you can buy them that way)

Stir in the sesame seeds and set the sauce aside. Over medium heat, heat a 12″ skillet with:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When shimmering hot, add the cubed chicken. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, spread out the meat so it’s in a single layer in the pan and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes until the meat is cooked through (time will depend on how large the cubes are). Once the chicken is cooked, pour in the sauce and mix to combine. Cover and remove from heat.

For vegetables, whatever your family likes will work. I used 1/2 cup of shredded carrots and 1/2 cup of frozen peas which I zapped in the microwave for 2 minutes before adding to the chicken mixture. But broccoli, bok choy, snow peas, celery, onions, water chestnuts, green beans, will work just be sure to cook them before adding to the sesame chicken. Or if you prefer, leave out the vegetables and serve a vegetable dish on the side. I served this over brown rice but again, Thai noodles or linguini would also work.

*For those of you unfamiliar with the product, Organicville makes a ketchup containing agave nectar instead of sugar. No one I’ve ever served it to knew it wasn’t “real” ketchup.

Oatmeal Cookies

My husband’s favorite cookie was oatmeal raisin. These are very easy to make (if you have a food processor) and very tasty. And they don’t have very many ingredients, also a pretty good thing. If you have dried dates which most of us do since fresh dates are not always available, soak them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes to soften them before using them in this recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread a medium size cookie sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a food processor, add:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free old fashioned oats, preferably organic

1/2 cup seed butter like sunflower or pumpkin butter or tahini

10-12 softened dates, medium sized

1/4 cup date syrup (or if you don’t have date syrup, use some of the water from soaking the dates just increase the number of dates if you want a sweeter cookie)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Blend until combined and the oatmeal is partly ground and a dough forms. This should take only about a minute. Remove from the food processor to a bowl and stir in:

1/2 cup carob chips (optional)

1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)

Scoop out several tablespoons (to a 1/4 cup depending on how large you’d like the cookies) of the dough and form into a flat, round disc. Repeat with the remaining dough. The recipe should make approximately 12 cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.

Eggless Hollandaise Sauce

This is a very easy recipe to make, unlike egg yolk and butter based Hollandaise which can break very easily. But even without the egg yolks and butter, it has an unctuous mouth feel and an almost umami satisfaction. It’s a simple white sauce with some added vinegar and lemon zest. Great for topping asparagus (I used white, sorry the photo doesn’t have more color, I have to limit my intake of green vegetables), peas and onions, chicken or turkey breast instead of gravy, or almost any fish (although you might want a little more lemon with fish).

In a 4 cup or larger saucepan, whisk together:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (best to grate with a microplane rather than a box grater) [this comes to the zest of about half a lemon]

pinch paprika (wasn’t enough for me so I added about 1/4 teaspoon)

3 tablespoons of gluten-free all purpose flour

Dash of sea salt

This should whisk to a fairly smooth consistency except for the lemon zest. Slowly add while whisking:

3/4 cup cold non-dairy milk (any kind except soy which won’t thicken)

Put over a medium heat and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. When it’s quite thick, whisk in:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk

Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes until the sauce is again somewhat thick (thinner than pudding), it should coat the back of a spoon. Serve hot, makes 1 1/2 cups.

TIPS:

*I added several dashes of herbamare to my sauce

*Gently brown some minced garlic in the oil before adding the remaining ingredients for a roasted garlic flavor (this won’t have a creamy smooth mouth feel)

*Some thyme, Italian herbs, or other herbs in small amounts would work well in this sauce and give it a slightly different flavor. Sage would be good if you want to serve it with chicken or turkey.

*For an eggless “Eggs” Benedict, pour over some Canadian bacon and tomato slice(s) on a gluten-free English muffin for a hearty breakfast.

Thai “Peanut” Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

My obsession with eggplant has been demolished and replaced with spaghetti squash. Such a versatile vegetable, low in carbs, and good either as a “spaghetti” type vegetable or as a mashed squash. In this instance, it’s used as a spaghetti. And of course, I’ve left out the peanuts and substituted tahini but really any seed or nut butter will work in this recipe. And feel free to adjust the last four ingredients in the sauce to meet your family’s tastes. I used a lot more of the red curry paste because I just didn’t taste it at the prescribed amount.

First, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut in half:

1 small to medium spaghetti squash (size depending on how many you want to feed)

Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and place face down on a baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a knife can be easily inserted into the skin side of the squash. Baking time will depend on the size of the squash. When tender, set aside to cool while you make the sauce.

In a medium size saucepan, combine:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (if you can have coconut milk, it would work well here)

2/3 cup tahini, sunflower, pepita, or other seed or nut butter

1/4 cup date sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy substitute for vegans)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons red curry paste (I used about 2 tablespoons)

Whisk to combine thoroughly although some heat may be needed to break down the seed or nut butter. Cook over medium high heat until it reaches a boil and then reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Cover and cook until the carrots and peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Using a fork, scrap the flesh from the inside of the spaghetti squash from end to end. Add to the skillet with the other vegetables along with 1/2 to 1 cup of the sauce. At this point, add:

1/4 cup chopped parsley (OPTIONAL)

Toss and cook for 2-3 minutes until squash is heated through. Serve with chopped nuts or seeds (I used roasted pumpkin seeds, delicious!). With a small squash as a side dish, serves 4.

This recipe makes about 3 times as much sauce as is needed for the dish. I spooned the remainder into 1 cup canning jars and put them in the freezer.

Eggplant Boats

Here’s another recipe for stuffed eggplant which would also work great for zucchini. Those of you who’ve followed me for awhile know how much I love eggplant! This recipe doesn’t use any starchy foods – no rice, pasta, bread crumbs, etc. Instead, it adds some cooked spaghetti squash to the stuffing! Delicious, very rich tasting. I didn’t but a dash of allspice (or nutmeg) would add even more depth to these flavors.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut in half:

1 small spaghetti squash

2 large eggplants (longer works better than rounder)

These will both take approximately the same amount of time to cook since the spaghetti squash doesn’t want to be overcooked or the strands turn to mush. Remove the seeds from the squash. Rub the halves of the squash and the eggplant with:

4-6 tablespoons olive oil total for all six pieces

Cut x’s in the eggplant and stab with a fork on the skin side (be sure to use Italian eggplant for these not Oriental ones). Place the squash skin side up and the eggplant skin side down on a large cookie sheet and bake for approximately 30-45 minutes until the squash is tender when stabbed with a knife and the eggplant is starting to turn translucent in the middle. If the eggplants are very round they will take longer to cook through.

Leave both squash and eggplant to cool a little while the filling is cooked. In an 10-12 inch skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon oil

When its shimmering (hot), add:

2 sweet Italian sausage removed from the casing (or hot if your family prefers them) [OPTIONAL]

Stir and cook the sausage until it’s almost cooked through before adding:

1 medium onion peeled and diced

1 medium sweet pepper diced

1/2 cup shredded carrots

2 teaspoons minced garlic

6 ounces of sliced shitake mushrooms

Cover and simmer over medium low heat until the vegetables are softened. Remove cover and add:

1 to 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce [see recipe under sauces or use jarred]

Cover again and leave over low heat. Use a fork to remove the flesh from the spaghetti squash, going from stem to bud end lengthwise not across the squash. It should come off in strands that look like spaghetti unless it’s overcooked. It will still work just won’t look like spaghetti in the filling. Also use a sharp spoon to detach the center flesh of the eggplant, cut it into pieces. Be sure to leave about a 1/4 inch of eggplant in the skins. Add the removed eggplant to the filling along with:

2 cups of the spaghetti squash (should be about equal to both halves of the squash depending on size)

Mix the squash and eggplant into the filling in the skillet. Place the eggplant halves on a baking sheet and fill generously with the filling. Sprinkle with:

1/4 to 1/2 cup non-dairy cheese (I used Parmesan but any cheese your family likes will work)

Return to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serves 4 to 6 depending on the size of the eggplant.

Vegan Carob Soufflé

I would never have thought I could make a soufflé without eggs but here it is! And delicious although perhaps not quite as fluffy as an egg soufflé. Very easy to make, just be sure it’s coming out of the oven immediately before you want to serve it because it does fall quite quickly as it cools off. Impress your vegan friends with this one! And of course, you can use chocolate instead of carob.

First, preheat oven to 350 degrees. This makes only 3 soufflés but is easy enough to double. Prepare the ramekins but spraying with a non-stick spray and then dusting them with a mixture of:

1 teaspoon carob powder

2 teaspoons date sugar

This allows the soufflé mixture to rise without being gripped by the ramekins surface. Next, mix together:

1 tablespoon psyllium husk (I used flaked)

3 tablespoons cold water

Whisk together to mix and set aside. The next step is to melt together:

1/2 cup unsweetened carob chips (or chocolate chips)

1/4 cup vegan margarine or butter (I used 1/4 cup of avocado oil)

Melt in either a double boiler over (not in) water over low heat or place a metal bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. Keep over low heat so that there isn’t a lot of steam emerging which could break the carob or chocolate. While this melts, in a medium sized bowl beat:

1/2 cup cold water

2 teaspoons aquafaba powder*

3 tablespoons date sugar

1/4 teaspoon guar gum

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

If you don’t have any aquafaba powder, use a cup of liquid aquafaba that you’ve reduced over heat to 1/2 cup. This requires a stronger mix of aquafaba so the powder is the easiest way to go. [It’s readily available online.]

Start beating the mixture on the lowest speed of your hand or stand mixer. Beat on low for 2-3 minutes then increase the speed to medium, again beating 2-3 minutes before finally increasing the speed to the highest setting and again beating 2-3 minutes. Trust me, you’ll say after the second stage that the mixture looks like stiff peaks but don’t stop there! This needs the third stage of the beating to keep it’s fluffy texture when folded into the carob mixture.

Once the chips are melted, remove from the heat and whisk together the fat and carob before adding:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons date sugar (optional depending on your family’s sweet tooth!)

1 tablespoon all purpose gluten-free flour

2 tablespoons carob powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

the psyllium mixture you set aside earlier

Whisk together to combine and then spoon in the aquafaba mixture. Carefully fold in the whipped aquafaba (it’s okay if a few streaks remain). Spoon into the prepared ramekins. Mixture should reach almost to the top of the ramekin. Bake for 20 minutes – DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN WHILE COOKING – the mixture should reach the top of the ramekin. Serve immediately.

Chicken Canzanese

When I first say the listing for Chicken Canzanese in the chicken bible, I thought it was a Chinese dish but turns out it’s a very old Italian recipe. I’ve resized and revamped it for those of us with allergies. It originally made eight servings so I’ve reduced it to 4. I’ve also changed the white wine in the original to chicken stock plus a touch of rice vinegar and honey. Since I’m used to using dried herbs rather than fresh, I’ve also reflected that change in this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In an ovenproof skillet (about 10-12 inches), heat over medium high heat:

1 teaspoon olive oil

Add:

1 ounce prosciutto cut into 1/4 inch cubes*

Cook, stirring frequently, until just starting to brown. Add:

3 teaspoons chopped garlic

Cook, stirring often, until garlic just starts to brown. Transfer the prosciutto and garlic to a small bowl. Dry with paper towels:

4-5 chicken thighs, skin on

Dust them with pepper to taste (no salt is necessary in this recipe because of the salt in the prosciutto. Replace the skillet on the heat and add:

1 teaspoon olive oil

the 4-5 chicken thighs, skin side down

Cook until well browned on the first side (about 5 minutes) then turn over and brown on the meat side, reducing heat to medium (about 5 more minutes). Transfer the chicken to a plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoon of the oil from the skillet (the chicken will release quite a bit of fat). Add to the skillet over medium heat:

2 tablespoon all purpose gluten-free flour

Whisk to combine and let the flour cook for about 30 seconds while whisking before adding:

2 cups of chicken stock

drizzle of rice vinegar (about 1/4 teaspoon)

drizzle of honey (about 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (depending on your taste)

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

dash (1/8 teaspoon) ground cloves (or add 2 whole cloves – just remember to remove them before serving)

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional depending on your taste)

Whisk to combine and cook until slightly thickened. Add the prosciutto, garlic, and chicken (skin side up) to the skillet, nestling the chicken into the sauce. Bake in preheated oven for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. After about 15 minutes check and see if the sauce is bubbling; if it is reduce oven temperature to 300 and cook until chicken is tender. Sauce should have thickened but if it’s still thin, remove the chicken from the sauce (move to a plate and cover) and cook the sauce on the stovetop for a few minutes until reduced to approximately 1 1/2 cups. Remove from the heat and whisk in:

1 tablespoon vegan margarine

1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Stir to combine and then pour the sauce around the chicken. Remove the bay leaves (and whole cloves if used) before serving. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.

*Prosciutto can become tough if fried when very thinly sliced so it’s recommended that a 1/4″ piece be used to cut “chunks” for this recipe. However, my deli wasn’t able to provide a “slab” of prosciutto because of shortages now due to the pandemic so I used the thinly sliced prepackaged prosciutto instead. Seemed to work alright but I simply chopped it into larger pieces than 1/4″.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

It’s very difficult to find a gluten-free pizza crust recipe that doesn’t include at least one egg. This one is yeasted so if you have trouble with getting yeast to work, not an uncommon problem, just make sure your yeast is: 1) still viable – there should be a date on the package; 2) that your water isn’t too hot or too cold – like with a baby’s bottle, the water should be just slightly warmer than a neutral feel on your inside wrist or about 105 degrees; 3) never put the salt in with the yeast, always add it to the flour; and 4) yeast needs food to grow so add the sweetener to the yeast to help it develop.

Those types in place, here’s the recipe. Takes awhile because of letting the yeast do it’s thing but it’s a very easy recipe to make.

First, in a 8-10 cup bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (I used the 1to1 but any will work fine)

1 tablespoon date sugar

1 teaspoon guar gum (or xanthan gum)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix to combine. In a 2-3 cup bowl mix together:

1 1/2 teaspoons yeast (this is one packet)

1 cup warm water (see above)

1 teaspoon date sugar

1/2 cup of the flour mixture above

Use a whisk to combine until there are no lumps or very small lumps left. Set aside and let the yeast work for 15-30 minutes, it should double in size. If it doesn’t start bubbling within the first few minutes, either the yeast isn’t any good or the water was too cold or too hot. Start again in this case.

After the yeast has doubled in size add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Then pour the wet yeast mixture into the flour mixture and stir (wooden spoon best) until all the flour is absorbed. Try not to mix too much once the mixture is combined and smooth or the dough may become tough. Form the dough into a ball, or as close to a ball as possible – if the mixture is too wet and sticky, wet or oil a spatula to form into a ball. Cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let sit for about 1 hour or until the ball is about double in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 10-12″ pizza pan (or a rectangular baking sheet) with:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Depending on the size and shape of the pizza desired, either scrape the entire ball of dough into the pan or cut into sections to make smaller pizzas. Personally, since I live alone, I quarter the dough and shape it into 4 personal size pizzas on a large baking sheet. Spread it on the pizza pan or shape it using wet or greased hands. I spread the olive oil on the baking pan with my hand and then have a greased hand to spread the dough out and shape it as I like.

Bake the dough for 10-12 minutes or until it just starts to brown. Remove from oven and either cover with toppings and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees (baking time depends a lot on the thickness of the crust), or cool and freeze the prepared pizza crusts for later use. I made 4 small personal sized pizza but I added the toppings to all of them, baked them and then froze the extra 3 fully made to heat up at a later date.

TIP: Gluten-free baked goods take longer to bake than “normal” baked goods so don’t be afraid to let the pizza dough cook for longer if it isn’t browned on the bottom. My crusts were quite thin so the 20 minutes was sufficient.