Carob Chip Zucchini Bars

Grate the zucchini and put in a colander for about an hour before starting these bars to get out some of the liquid out of it or the bars will be too wet and get gummy. I weighted the grated zucchini down with a plate and a large can of tomatoes. Then blot between some paper towels. Makes 16 bars.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

1 cup quinoa flour

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice (or 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg)

In another medium sized bowl combine:

3/4 cup pear sauce (or apple sauce) unsweetened

3/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/2 cup agave or coconut nectar)

1/3 cup avocado oil (or other light oil)

2 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini (2 small zucchini)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well with a large spoon. Stir in:

3/4 cup carob chips (or chocolate chips)

1/2 cup hemp hulls (or chopped walnuts if nuts are possible)

Pour or spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading as evenly as possible so that the batter cooks evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the pan. Cool completely before cutting.

Moussaka (Greek Lasagna)

My mother loved moussaka. When I made it for her, I used ground lamb, ricotta cheese, eggs, and homemade pasta sauce. Things and times have changed so here’s one that’s dairy, gluten and egg free and uses jarred (or homemade if you have the time and desire) sauce. Just in case, I’m including my recipe for pasta sauce.

First, start the tomato sauce if making homemade by heating in a small Dutch oven:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add to it when hot:

1 diced medium onion

1 diced sweet pepper, any color

1/2 cup sliced carrots (or grated)

6 ounces shitake mushrooms

Stir to combine, lower heat to medium and cook until the onions and mushrooms are sweating and onion is translucent. Add:

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

32 ounces small diced tomatoes

16 ounces tomato puree

1 teaspoon mixed Italian dried herbs (basil, marjoram, thyme)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook over medium low heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. This gets rid of much of the water in the tomatoes so the sauce can thicken. If it boils too vigorously, reduce the heat to low. When reduced by about 1/3, add:

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Use an immersion blender to cream most of the vegetables, leaving a few whole. I do this because then the eggplant slices sit better in the sauce but it is optional. In a large skillet, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When hot add:

1 pound bulk Italian sausage (or if you want this vegan, diced tofu)**

Cook the sausage through and then drain off the fat and add to the tomato sauce, stirring to combine. Set aside. If using jarred sauce, this will take more than 1 large jar.

While the sauce is cooking, peel and thinly slice:

1 large eggplant

Place the slices on a large, sided baking sheet in a single layer and salt generously. Once salted, another layer of eggplant can be added on the top of the first, again salting generously. Place a slightly smaller baking sheet on top of the eggplant and then weight it down with large cans. Let sit at least 30 minutes, 60 is preferable.

After sitting, wash each eggplant slice to remove the salt and whatever liquid was expelled from the slices. Dry between paper towels. Heat in a large skillet (12 inch) or flat griddle:

1 teaspoon olive oil (just to coat the bottom of the pan)

When hot, add eggplant slices until the bottom is covered but the slices have room to move. Let brown for a minute or two and then turn and brown the second side. Repeat until all the slices are browned.

Still while the sauce is cooking, add to a large saucepan:

1/2 cup olive oil

Begin heating over medium high heat. Add:

3/4 cup gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon allspice (or nutmeg)

Whisk to combine. Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour then add, 1 cup at a time:

3 cups oat milk (or any other non-dairy milk except soy)

Whisk each portion of milk into the flour and cook, whisking every minute or so, until the white sauce is thickened. It should be the consistency of a pudding or mashed potatoes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13″ baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with slices of eggplant.* Add a layer of the meat sauce and repeat ending with a layer of eggplant (3 layers of eggplant and 2 layers of sauce). There may be a little meat sauce left over. Slowly pour the white sauce on top of the last layer of eggplant (I didn’t quite have enough eggplant to cover the entire top but it still worked okay). The white sauce on mine was only about 1/2 inch thick but if your pan is deep enough, use all the white sauce, it’s that yummy on the top! Sprinkle the top with:

1-2 cups grated parmesan cheese

Place baking pan on a large baking sheet because if it’s full, it will bubble over and put in the oven. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the middle is bubbling. Let cool for about 15-20 minutes before slicing.

*Don’t think you have enough eggplant? Peel and thinly slice 1-2 medium to large Russet potatoes and place those on the bottom layer of the moussaka, using the eggplant for just other 2 layers.

**I used sweet Italian sausage but feel free to use any ground meat.

Pumpkin Pie

My daughter-in-law loves pumpkin, anything pumpkin. I made a dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake for her one of the first times I met her. So I’ve been trying to figure out how to make a pumpkin pie without eggs. I finally found a recipe I could adapt and it’s sooooooooo good! Creamy just like the original, all those warm spices. If you don’t like maple syrup or don’t want that prominent flavor in the pie, feel free to substitute agave or coconut nectar, or even honey, or a mixture of sweeteners. I find that maple syrup compliments pumpkin (and sweet potato) very nicely. I also found 1/2 too sweet for my taste but perfect for my daughter-in-law and son.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. If using a pre-formed gluten-free pie crust (frozen), be sure to take it out of the freezer before you start mixing the filling so it can thaw. If making pie crust (see recipe under desserts), only one crust is needed.

Filling:

1 15ounce can of pumpkin puree (or sweet potato)

1/3 to 1/2 cup maple syrup depending on the sweetness level desired

1 cup non-dairy milk (NOT SOY)

1 tablespoon avocado oil (can be skipped if want fat free)

2 tablespoons corn starch (or arrowroot)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or add individual spices: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

Whisk until well mixed, it will be thin. Pour into prepared pie crust, place on a baking sheet slightly bigger than the pie plate, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until center of the pie doesn’t wiggle when moved. (I baked mine for 55 minutes, turned off the oven and left the pie in it for 15 minutes before removing.) Refrigerate until cold before serving. Makes 6-8 servings.

TIP: To avoid cracking of the pie, keep out of drafts while it cools and do not refrigerate until mostly cooled. DO NOT COVER until completely cooled.

TIP: For a slightly firmer pie, reduce the milk to 3/4 cup and don’t add the oil.

Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Oatmeal Cookies

My husband’s favorite cookie was oatmeal. After looking though dozens of oatmeal cookie recipes, this one came out first in the ones I thought sounded really delicious and easily converted to allergen free. With a food processor, it was very easy to put together and turned out delicious! As with many cookie recipes that are allergen free, these should be flattened before baking and bake a little longer than most cookies.

In a small pot, bring to a boil:

12 ounces of dates with sufficient water to cover them

Once they come to the boil, remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, put into a food processor:

1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds

Blend until the seeds are well ground but not turning into butter, larger chunks are okay. In a medium bowl, blend:

2 cups quick cooking organic gluten-free oatmeal

the ground seeds

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

Place the cooled dates into the food processor along with:

2 cups cooked pumpkin or sweet potato or a 15 ounce can of pumpkin or sweet potato puree

1/2 cup of the date boiling liquid (or if a fruity flavor is desired, 1/2 cup of any fruit juice)

Blend until smooth. Add the date/pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients and blend until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Let the dough sit for 15-20 minutes so that the oats and chia seeds can absorb some of the moisture in the dough. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2-3 medium cookie sheets with parchment paper.

When the dough is ready, scoop by tablespoon onto the baking sheets and flatten the cookies with the back of a wet spoon. Depending on how it’s measured, the dough should make 2 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.* Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes depending on size and thickness or until the outside of the cookie is golden brown. I found getting the cookies as thin as possible leads to a cookie that is browned and crispy around the outside and chewy on the inside. Cool on baking sheets and then store in air tight container.

*I actually used about 2 tablespoons per cookie and the dough made 29 cookies.

Easy and Quick Sweet Potato Cookies

If you love sweet potatoes like I do (and my daughter-in-law does), then you’ll really enjoy these cookies. They are very moist, cakey, and the addition of maple syrup and some autumn spices, enhance the richness of these cookies. If your nut or seed butter is fairly runny, these can easily be blended with a spoon. If like my pumpkin seed butter, its thicker, you may want to use a hand mixer. Makes 12-15 depending on size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, blend:

1 cup sweet potato puree

1/2 cup pumpkin seed (or other nut or seed) butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup (or if preferred coconut or agave nectar, honey or date syrup)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

Mix until combined and smooth. Drop by tablespoon on to baking sheet. These should be fairly flat so smooth with the top of the spoon. Drop at least 2 inches apart since they will spread slightly. Bake until firm to the touch, around 12-15 minutes depending on size. Cool on baking sheet.

TIP: A few weeks ago, I blogged a recipe for pumpkin chai snickerdoodles. I sprinkled some of the spice mixture from that recipe on top of these cookies and they were delicious! However, the cookies are so moist that I recommend if you do that you want to eat them the same day. The chai mixture is what turned the tops of my cookies dark.

Chicken with Rice and Vegetables

I’ve been making rice with meat for years. It’s a convenient, easy way to stretch meat when you don’t have much of it and lots of people to feed. And a great way to use up extra vegetables because it’s an adaptable recipe where any combination of meat and vegetables works fine. The recipe feeds 6 or 4 generously.

This will be my last blog post for several weeks as I now need to concentrate on finishing my screenplay which was due today but I’m not happy with it yet so have to concentrate on that for the next few weeks.

In a Dutch oven, heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add:

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder (if using breasts cut into large cubes

The object is to brown the meat and build flavor as well as sear the meat to keep all the juices in it. This should take about 5 minutes, 2 1/2 minutes per side. When browned, remove the chicken pieces to a plate and add to the pot:

1 medium onion diced

6-8 stalks of celery diced

1/2 cup chopped carrots (or grated)

1 cup diced mushrooms

Sauté for several minutes until onion starts to brown. Add:

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons sweet or spicy paprika depending on your taste

2-3 bay leaves

1 cup frozen or fresh peas (if using fresh, add with the rice)

2 cups chicken stock (or, if possible, 1 cup of white wine and 1 cup of stock)*

1 tablespoon date syrup or date sugar

Stir to mix and add the chicken back into the pot along with any juices that are on the plate. Cover and simmer on low heat for approximately a half hour until chicken is cooked. Stir in:

1 cup rice (I used a wild rice blend but feel free to use whatever rice you prefer)

Simmer covered until rice is cooked, stirring frequently to be sure rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. This should cook out all the liquid but if not, cook uncovered until most of the liquid is gone. If the rice isn’t cooked but the liquid is all absorbed, add 1/4 cup stock and continue cooking covered until rice is done. Remove the bay leaves, taste and add additional salt if needed. Serve garnished with chives.

*If using wine, deglaze the pan with the wine before adding the stock. This will cook off the alcohol.

Pumpkin Chai Snickerdoodles

Get the feeling I’m really into pumpkin right now! I think it may be because I haven’t been feeling very well and knowing pumpkin can aid in calming an upset stomach, I’m turning to it to help me deal with stomach issues.

I’ve never had a snickerdoodle! Now that I’m allergic to chocolate (actually the caffeine in chocolate), I’m expanding my cookie horizons. Found this recipe on-line and thought it easily adjustable however, the cookies are not the easiest to make, especially if you’re new to cookie baking or don’t have a stand mixer like me. Treat them much like you would a peanut butter cookie – roll in sugar and then use a fork to flatten the balls.

Make Chai Sugar by mixing together:

1/3 cup date sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl mix:

1/3 cup aquafaba (if you don’t have a can of garbanzo beans handy or powdered aquafaba, substitute water)

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

Let sit for several minutes to form flax gel and then add:

1/2 cup vegan shortening or margarine (I use Spectrum shortening)

1 cup date sugar

With a hand or stand mixer, beat on low/medium until the mixture is combined and almost fluffy. Add:

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix to combine and then add:

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon allspice or nutmeg

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Mix to combine before adding:

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour.

At this point, unless you have a stand mixer, it’s best to continue mixing with a large spoon or even, if you’ve washed your hands or are wearing gloves, with your hands. Mixture will be quite crumbly until all the flour is worked into the dough. The consistency reminds me of gingerbread cookies or sugar cookies. I used my hands and found the mixture combined quite easily. Scoop out by tablespoonful and roll into a ball (so you have to use your hands anyway!). The mixture shouldn’t be at all sticky but if it is, add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the stickiness is gone.

Roll each ball as you make them into the chai sugar mixture and place 1-2″ apart on the cookie sheet. When the sheet is full, using a fork, press down each ball into a flat disk.* Bake 8 minutes then check. If the cookies have puffed up (domed), flatten more with the fork. Bake an additional 2-3 minutes until the outside of the cookies are firm while the inside is still slightly underdone. Cool on sheet for several minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

*If you prefer, bake the balls for 8 minutes and then flatten them with the fork. Their appearance differs and I found the ones I flattened before baking were chewier. The smoother ones were flattened before baking (on the right) while the ones flattened after baking were rougher looking (on the left).

Pumpkin Donuts

Pumpkin is a favorite flavor of mine anytime of the year, not just over the holidays. And pumpkin is a natural soother of an upset stomach so it has health benefits as well. Here’s a pumpkin donut recipe that has the spices of a pumpkin pie, mixes up quick and easy and bakes in about 10-12 minutes. Topped with a maple glaze, to die for!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size bowl whisk together:

2 tablespoons avocado oil

3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

2 tablespoons aquafaba

2 tablespoons maple syrup (use the real stuff here)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 teaspoon vanilla

When well mixed whisk in:

1/2 cup date sugar

To the bowl add:

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup all purpose gluten free flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (if you don’t have the mixed, you can use the individual spices – 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon allspice)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

TIP: If you want the pumpkin taste stronger than the spices, reduce the spices to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Blend until combined with a spoon. Let sit for a few minutes while you grease the donut pan(s). It will make 6-10 donuts depending on how large you make them. Using a 1 gallon food storage bag, spoon the donut mix into the bag and zip it shut. Cut off one corner and pipe the donut mixture into the donut pan(s). Bake 8-14 minutes depending on how large the donuts are (I made only 6 donuts so baked them the full 14 minutes.) When the tops are set, they are done.

Remove from oven, let cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

While the donuts are baking make the maple glaze:

In a small bowl whisk together:

1/4 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance soy free)

1/2 cup powdered monkfruit sweetener (Lakanto makes one that Whole Foods or Amazon carries)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon non-dairy milk

1/2 teaspoon vinegar

2-3 shakes of salt (or a dash!)

When the donuts are still warm, dip one side into the glaze. If you want to make them really decadent, top them with crumbled (cooked!) bacon right after dipping. Let sit at least a half hour for the glaze to set. When dry, the glaze is really not that visible, just shiny.

Gingerbread Waffles (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free, nut-free, vegan)

I much prefer waffles to pancakes so for my birthday this week, I bought myself a new waffle maker that has removeable plates for easier cleaning. And in one of my older cookbooks [Homemade Bread, FARM JOURNAL] I found a recipe for Gingerbread Waffles! My favorite cookie is a gingersnap or gingerbread cookie so this was a real delight!

So here’s the updated recipe. Takes a little more work than mixing up a batch of pancakes but really worth the extra effort!

In a medium bowl mix:

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed with

1/4 cup warm water

After mixing, let sit for a few minutes. While that’s working in a smaller bowl, mix:

2 teaspoons aquafaba powder (if you don’t have any aquafaba powder, use 1/3 cup aquafaba liquid)

1/3 cup cold water

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

And whip until stiff peaks. Set aside. To the flaxseed mixture add:

1/4 cup vegan margarine or shortening (such as Sprectrum)

1/2 cup date sugar

Using a hand mixer, beat until combined. Add:

1 cup non-dairy milk such as hemp, soy, or oat

1/4 cup unsulfered molasses

and continue beating until everything is incorporated.

Add:

2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon dry ginger (or if you don’t have any fresh ginger on hand, increase this to 1 teaspoon)

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon salt

Using a spoon, mix until everything is incorporated. Like with pancakes, don’t overmix, its okay if you still see a little flour or a couple of lumps. Fold in the “whites” (the aquafaba mixture) until combined, again be careful not to overmix or you’ll have tough waffles. Now you’re ready for the waffle iron.

Cook per your machine’s instructions. I cooked mine on the medium setting remembering that gluten-free baked goods often take a little more time to cook. A single recipe makes 7 good size waffles. These waffles are great served with a fruit sauce topped with some non-dairy whip or vanilla frozen dessert. However, I decided to combine my waffle with one of my other favorite things and made a plate of chicken and waffles with real maple syrup drizzled over the top. Delicious!

This is a heavy dense waffle so one is enough per person.

Quick and Easy Orange Spice Coffee Cake (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free, nut-free, vegan)

It’s difficult to find recipes for desserts that are delicious along with being allergy free. Here’s a light, delicious cake that’s quick to mix and bake. Takes longer to get all the ingredients together than to make. And nobody will believe you that it is gluten-free or egg-free, never mind that there’s no refined cane sugar in it. I used a “Honey Bee Glaze” topping but it would also work well with the standard coffee cake streusel topping. The honey bee glaze made a gooey sticky cake best served hot while the caramel like goo is still pliant. And would work well with any kind of non-dairy frozen vanilla or orange “cream”.

I’m allergic to nuts so I used hemp hulls in the topping but any nut if you can have them would work, sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds would even work well.

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Generously grease an 8×8″ baking dish. Here’s what you’ll need for the cake:

In a 2-cup bowl mix together:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon aquafaba powder and 2 tablespoons water

Let sit several minutes while you,

Mix in a medium mixing bowl:

2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour

2/3 cup date sugar

1/2 teaspoon guar gum

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice (feel free to substitute the cinnamon and allspice for whatever spices your family likes such as nutmeg, mace, ginger, or cloves)

Mix until combined.

Now back to the smaller bowl add:

1/2 cup oil (I used avocado oil because of its light flavor but any oil would work)

1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt (my 5.5 ounce container was exactly a 1/2 cup)

1/3 cup agave nectar

1/3 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons grated rind (rind from one large orange)

1 tablespoon vinegar

3/4 cup raisins, dried cranberries, currents, etc. (Optional)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Don’t worry if there are dry spots but you don’t want too many. The batter is like a biscuit or scone batter when combined.

Spread the batter in the greased pan and top with Honey Bee Glaze or coffee cake streusel (the cinnamon mixture used in the Easy Cinnamon Swirl Bread would work here, just double the recipe). Bake for 25-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Here’s the recipe for Honey Bee Glaze adapted from the Joy of Cooking.

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup honey or date syrup

1/2 cup crushed nuts, seeds, or hemp hulls

Pour over coffee cake batter before baking.