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.

Spicy Spanish Meatballs (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free)

Just like with meatloaf, I love meatballs. I’ve gotten lazy in my old age and simply made meatballs with some of my meatloaf mix but I recently saw a recipe for Spicy Spanish Meatballs and thought I’d give them a try. Here’s my revision of that recipe that used beef, veal and eggs, none of which I can eat.

You’ll need for the meatballs:

2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or ground cumin)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds (or ground coriander)

2 whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

9 ounces ground turkey

8 ounces ground pork

2 teaspoons allspice (or you can use nutmeg, I don’t happen to like it so substituted allspice)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 garlic cloves crushed

1/2 cup chopped dates (if you used dried dates, be sure to rehydrate them before adding)

1 small hot red chili pepper (I used a red finger pepper, seeds and veins removed), finely chopped

flax gel (3 tablespoons ground flax mixed into 1/3 cup hot water; let stand 5 minutes)

You’ll need for the sauce:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (roast and grind as above) (or 1 teaspoon ground cumin)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons diced garlic

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon paprika (I used 1/2 teaspoon regular paprika and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika)

1/2 cup wine (if you can have it) OR 1/2 cup chicken stock

28 ounces (1 large can) diced tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon dry oregano or marjoram

2 tablespoons date syrup

Make the meatballs: In a dry skillet, heat the cumin and coriander seeds and whole cloves over medium heat until aromatic, a minute or two. Let cool for a few minutes and then grind in either a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I used my coffee grinder that I never use for coffee).

Add to a food processor, the flax gel, dates, dried spices, garlic, cinnamon, allspice and chili pepper and grind until smooth. Remove to a bowl, add salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of each) along with the meats and blend until mixed. Try not to overmix to avoid tough meatballs. Form into about 1 ounce meatballs with wet hands (makes about 16-18). Place on a greased, small baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Whwn the sauce is simmering, take the meatballs out of the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper (again about 1/2 teaspoon each), cumin, cinnamon and paprika and cook for a few minutes over low to medium heat being careful not to let the spices or garlic burn. Add the wine or chicken stock and boil for several minutes until almost evaporated. Add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes uncovered, stir occasionally.

Add 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste depending on how thick you like your sauce, and the oregano or marjoram along with the date syrup (don’t have any? Use maple syrup or agave instead).

Add the meatballs to the sauce, remove the bay leaves. If you wish, you can sprinkle the dish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve over any small grain such as quinoa or faro, couscous would also work. Or serve with slices of gluten free bread to sop up the sauce.

Serves 4 people generously.