Empanadas

I know you’ll take one look at the picture and say, But Jean, empanadas aren’t round! I know, they’re supposed to be half-circles but this gluten-free dough is supposed to have an egg to bind it together and the flax egg just didn’t work as well so I made full-moons. They taste delicious, just don’t try to eat them with your hands! I used ground turkey in mine but any ground meat will work.

In a small bowl combine:

1 tablespoon ground flax

3 tablespoons water or aquafaba

Let sit about 5 minutes until it sets then make the dough. In the bowl of the food processor put:

3 cups gluten-free flour (whatever blend you have works)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 tablespoons date sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup vegan margarine, Earth Balance, or Spectrum shortening (put in around the food processor, not in just one spot)

Pulse until the mixture is a coarse meal. In a small bowl combine:

1 flax egg (that you made above) [OR if you can use it, 1 large egg)

1/2 cup oat milk (or other non-dairy milk)

Add to the food processor and pulse until the dough comes together. Remove from the processor into a food storage bag and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. While the dough chills, make the filling. In a 12″ skillet heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2-1 teaspoon paprika

1/2-1 teaspoon cumin

1-2 teaspoon dried oregano

Heat just until fragrant, about 30 seconds then add:

1 small onion diced

Cook to soften the onion, about 2 minutes and then add:

1 pound ground meat, like turkey, beef, or pork

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Cook, breaking the meat apart as it cooks, until the meat is done, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the skillet to a bowl. Add:

1/3 cup sugar-free ketchup mixed with 1-3 teaspoons hot sauce (hot sauce optional)

1 small can mild (or medium whichever your family likes) green chilies

1/2 cup non-dairy cheese shredded, whatever cheese you can eat (I used parmesan)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Stir to combine and let cool. Before the dough is chilled, line a 24×24″ space on a counter with plastic wrap and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When the dough is ready, take out of the bag and cut the dough into two pieces. Put one half back into the bag and the refrigerator and put the other half on the counter with the plastic wrap. Press down on the dough to flatten slightly and then cover with a sheet of parchment paper. Roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thickness. Cut in whatever size you desire (I used a bowl that’s about a 6″ circle). Use a spatula to pick up the dough and move to the lined cookie sheet. Place about 3/4 of a cup of the filling** in the center of the disk and cover with a second disk of dough. Seal the edges together, if necessary moisten the edge with water (I didn’t need any water with my dough).

Repeat, rerolling the dough until all the dough is used and the filling is gone. I was able to make 4 of the 6″ size. If you’re able to use the egg in the dough, you can probably fold over the dough to make the half-circles and therefore can make more empanadas. Use a small knife to cut air holes in the tops of the empanadas so steam can escape. Spray with a non-stick cooking spray or brush with oat milk or egg wash if you can use eggs. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Makes four servings (6″ size). Serve with guacamole, salsa, or as I did, just slices of avocado.

**Of course, if you’re using a smaller circle to cut your empanadas, you’ll use less filling in each.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake

I do love gingerbread but I also love pumpkin. This cake doesn’t have a pronounced pumpkin taste – the ginger overwhelms it so if you want more pumpkin taste, reduce the amount of ginger you add. It’s wonderfully moist and delicious served with a vanilla frozen dessert or a non-dairy whipped cream.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 square or round pan (to take the entire cake out of the pan to serve, cover the baking pan with parchment paper and then grease). In a small bowl combine:

1 tablespoon ground flax

3 tablespoons aquafaba*

*Add 1 teaspoon aquafaba powder to 3 tablespoons hot water. Don’t have aquafaba powder or a can of chickpeas handy? Substitute 1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons hot water. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or until a flax gel forms. In a medium sized bowl (at least 3 cups) combine:

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup unsulfured molasses

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup hot (the hotter the better) water

Mix until the molasses and honey are fairly thin. In another medium size bowl (at least 6 cups) sift together:

1 cup sorghum flour

3/4 cup tapioca flour or arrowroot

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice (or nutmeg)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix thoroughly. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before cutting.

Coffee Energy Bites

In a medium to large bowl combine:

Ever look for something, not much, you just need a little something to lift you up in the middle or towards the end of your day? These will work – full of energy (and carbs), these bites will get you going and the whole grain oats and flax will sustain your energy for awhile. Easy to make, variable by your taste, and chock full of flavor, can’t beat the combination!

1 cup whole grain gluten-free oats (organic if possible)

1/2 cup ground flax

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules*

1/4 cup dried berries (small pieces work best but not powder)

1/4 cup carob chips (or chocolate if you can have them)

Mix to combine evenly. In a small bowl stir together:

1/2 cup tahini (slightly thick better than runny)**

1/4 cup honey, agave or coconut nectar, or maple syrup depending on taste

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the oat mixture and stir with a large fork to combine. Mixture will be slightly sticky but shouldn’t be too sticky. It should easily stick together when pressed into your hand. With DRY hands, form into roughly 1″ balls. I found I had to rinse off my hands every 2-3 balls to keep the mixture from sticking to me instead of itself! Should make 20-24 balls. Store in airtight container.

*I used 2 tablespoons of instant coffee granules and after eating several of these bites, I’ve decided it was a little too much coffee – they taste a little bitter to me so depending on your love for coffee, add 1 or 2 tablespoons.

**I used tahini because of my nut allergy but feel free to use any seed or nut butter you like. But if you use a really thick butter, add a little water or liquid sweetener to it to thin it slightly. If your tahini is too thin, add a little more of the dry ingredients.

Honey Oatmeal Quick Bread

Like many people who have to live gluten free I’ve searched long and hard for a tasty gluten-free bread that doesn’t feel like a brick! Right? Most weigh a ton and most of the recipes I’ve tried also come out like bricks. And the ones that don’t weight a ton have eggs in them. So I was quite surprised by this recipe adapted from “Feelin’ Fabulous with Kayla”. It is fairly light in texture, great for eating warm from the oven with a spread, French toast, or for grilled sandwiches. I don’t recommend that you put it in your toaster because it can be quite crumbly. But it is DELICIOUS! And I do promise you I will continue to seek a allergy-free bread that we can enjoy that isn’t heavy and stays together when we want a sandwich. Feels like it’ll take my lifetime to find it but it is my one of my most sought after goals.

In a medium large bowl combine:

2 tablespoons ground golden flax

1/3 cup aquafaba

Let sit for 5 minutes until flax gel forms. Grease a GLASS loaf pan, for some reason for this bread glass works better than the metal pans. Whisk into the flax gel:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup vegan mayonnaise less 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup avocado oil

Whisk until combined and then add:

3/4 cup non-dairy unsweetened milk

Whisk in the milk. In a separate bowl combine:

2 1/3 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (use King Arthur’s Measure4Measure, Cup4Cup or Bob’s Red Mill’s 1:1)*

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

Mix to combine before adding to the wet mixture. Stir to combine wet and dry mixtures. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with oats. Set aside for 15-20 minutes while the oven heats to 350 degrees. You want to let any gluten-free dough sit for a few minutes before cooking so that the dry can absorb some of the liquid or the end result will be too moist.

Bake 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the loaf pan for about a half hour and then let cool completely before cutting (center may still be slightly warm).

*We want to use one of these all-purpose gluten-free flours because we’re not adding any guar gum or xanthan gum and other various flour mixtures will measure differently.

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are delicious, moist and tender, with that warm cinnamon flavor. When I make them again, I’m going to chop up the grated carrot that I buy at the store. The pieces inside the cookies were cooked but the ones on the outside still had a little bite to them. And I felt they were a little sweet for my taste so I’m going to eliminate the agave next time but my daughter-in-law will think they’re just right – the sweeter the better. Very quick and easy to mix together, no mixer needed, just a spoon and two medium size bowls. Makes 14 cookies.

Prepare a cookie sheet(s) by covering with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine:

2 tablespoons ground flax

1/3 cup aquafaba

Stir to mix thoroughly and then let sit for at least 5 minutes. While the flax gel is forming, in another medium bowl mix:

1/4 cup white rice flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

2 tablespoons tapioca flour (or starch)

2 tablespoon sorghum flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 cup quick cooking gluten-free oatmeal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix thoroughly. Whisk into the flax gel:

2 tablespoons avocado oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup maple syrup (or 1/3 if you prefer not to use the agave)

2 tablespoons agave or coconut nectar

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry (or vice versa doesn’t matter which way). Stir to combine but don’t overmix. Stir in:

3/4 cup grated carrots

Cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic wrap sits directly on the cookie dough. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Drop the cookie dough by 2 tablespoon scoops. I used wet hands to shape the dough into flattened disks. The dough doesn’t rise much or spread so it needs to be flattened before baking. Wetting hands keeps the dough from sticking. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until firm to the touch. These cookies won’t brown much. Cool on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container on the countertop.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Who doesn’t like a good cupcake? And this one is great – light and fluffy, very unusual for a gluten-free cake. I didn’t have a regular size muffin pan so I simply put the cupcakes papers in a 9×12″ baking pan instead. They didn’t all come out perfectly round but they still tasted delicious! Partnered with the Carob Buttercream Frosting, they are wonderful.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake papers in 1 or 2 regular (12 hole) muffin tins. The recipe made 14 muffins when I made it, so depending on how full you fill the papers will determine exactly how many cupcakes.

In a medium bowl, whisk:

3 tablespoons ground flax

3/4 cup agave nectar, coconut nectar, or date syrup

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/3 cup avocado or other light tasting oil

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

Set aside. In a large bowl, combine:

1 cup millet flour

1/3 cup chickpea flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1/3 cup potato starch

1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Mix to combine the dry ingredients. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and whisk again to combine. Don’t overmix or the cupcakes will get tough. Fill the cupcake papers 2/3 full of batter (or, if preferred, use 2 8″ cake pans lined with parchment paper and sprayed with a non-stick spray, dividing the batter equally between the 2 pans). Bake 20-25 minutes rotating the pan after 10-12 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. If making a cake, bake 30-35 minutes. Cool in the pan(s) for at least about a half hour before removing to a cooling rack. Frost with Carob Buttercream or your favorite frosting.

If a cake is made instead of the cupcakes, freeze the layers before frosting to reduce crumb.

Prune and Carob Squares

Here’s another bar that’s downright delicious! Not something to eat with fingers, there’s too much soft, gooey filling in them for that. Of course, if wanted, other dried fruit (like dates or figs) would work just as well as prunes and be equally tasty. And like the raspberry bars, refrigerating the baking dish overnight or even for several hours before cutting will help the crust firm up and make removing them from the dish easier.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9×9″ baking dish with parchment paper or spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Blend in a food processor:

1/3 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds (lightly roasted)*

1/4 cup date or coconut sugar

1 cup gluten-free organic old fashioned oats

1/3 cup millet flour

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Pulse until the oatmeal mixture resembles ground nuts or cornmeal. Add:

1/2 cup avocado oil or 1/2 cup melted vegan margarine, or melted coconut oil

Pulse until the mixture begins to form clumps. If the mixture is too dry and doesn’t clump add:

up to 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time

Remove from the food processor and add:

1/2 cup gluten-free organic old fashioned oats

1/4 cup hemp hulls (or if nuts are possible, ground nuts)

Stir to combine. Pour half the mix into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and press down to make a firm bottom. Reserve the other half for the top of the bars. In the food processor bowl blend:

1 16 ounce drained can of beans (whatever kind you like, I used chickpeas but any bean will work)

2 cups prune puree**

Blend until the beans are creamy so the softer the bean used, the less time and creamier this mixture will be. Add:

1/4 cup carob powder

1/3 cup date or coconut sugar (if using dates, this added sugar isn’t necessary)

1/8 sea salt

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

1 tablespoon lemon juice and zest from 1/2 lemon (optional)

Pulse until the mixture is combined. Scoop out and spread on the crust in the baking dish. Cover with the remaining oat mixture and bake 35-40 minutes until the top is browned. Remove and cool on a cooling rack until no heat is felt on the bottom of the baking dish. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before slicing.

*To roast seeds or nuts, heat oven to 350 degree, place seeds on a dry baking sheet and roast until you smell them, usually not more than a few minutes.

**To make prune puree (or puree with any dried fruit), place the fruit in a saucepan large enough to hold the fruit and enough water to cover it. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15-30 minutes depending on how much fruit used. When the fruit begins to dissolve into the water when stirred, it’s sufficiently cooked. Turn up the heat and boil, uncovered, several minutes to reduce the liquid until, when stirred, very little liquid is visible. If a smooth puree is needed, use an immersion blender. For this recipe, that’s not needed since the mixture will be going into the food processor.

English Muffins

As I’ve previously mentioned I haven’t had much luck making gluten-free breads. I found a new method in a cookbook entitled The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook. Their flour blend however includes dry milk powder which doesn’t work for those of us allergic to dairy. It’s also heavy on the carbohydrate flours – white rice, potato starch and tapioca. And their English muffin recipe includes eggs and cornmeal (for dusting the muffins). So I gave it a go and here’s what actually worked. I left their flour mixture the same, same ratios without the milk powder.

It took me awhile to try this because it is quite a long recipe and somewhat complicated but I finally decided if I took it step by step it wouldn’t be bad and it wasn’t. In fact, it was quite simple, just took a while to complete all the steps but the tasty muffins are definitely worth it. The frozen ones I was buying were tough on the outside, almost impossible to slice while these are easily split with a fork. Says it makes 10 but I got 11 and several of them are quite small so I think next time I make them, I’ll increase the individual muffins and perhaps only get 9 instead.

Prepare 2 medium size baking sheets by dusting with ground millet (or if you can use it, cornmeal which is the traditional coating for English muffins). It takes approximately 1/2 cup so process the whole millet in a food processor to a medium grind (coarse is too little and fine makes flour which doesn’t work either, we want it the consistency of cornmeal. Sesame or poppy seeds would also work.

In a large bowl combine:

4 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

2/3 cup aquafaba

Let sit for several minutes to form flax gel. While that happens, in a smaller bowl combine:

1 1/2 cups white rice flower

3/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup potato starch (NOT potato flour)

1/4 cup tapioca flour or starch

3 tablespoons powdered psyllium husk

2 tablespoons date sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 packet which is 2 1/4 teaspoons)

Stir to mix in the yeast before adding:

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Whisk into the flax gel:

2 cups warm water (approximately 110 degrees)

2 tablespoons oil or melted vegan margarine

In increments, with a hand mixer or heavy spoon (stand mixer would be better with a paddle if you have one), mix the flour mixture into the wet mix. When it gets too thick for the hand mixer, use your hands (with gloves) and keep mixing until the dough comes together. It’s about the consistency of cookie dough.

With wet hands form about 1/3 cup of dough into balls (I’ll probably do 1/2 cup of dough next time) and set them on the dusted baking sheets widely spaced, about 5 per sheet (so they have room to rise). I heated my oven by setting it at 170 degrees for approximately 2-3 minutes before turning it off. Cover the muffin balls with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.*

Remove them from the oven and make sure the rack is on a lower-middle setting. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the dough and using a greased spatula, flatten the balls to approximately 3/4 inch disks. Dust the tops with the millet (or cornmeal).

Spray a 12″ skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat before placing 4-5 muffins in the pan. Brown over medium heat and brown on each side (about a minute per side). Repeat with the remaining muffins. If the muffins begin to puff up, gently press them down, doming isn’t what we want and means you’re probably cooking them too long. Transfer to a clean baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake until firm, about 30-35 minutes, rotating baking sheet half way through cooking. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 15-20 minutes before splitting with a fork and toasting. Store unsplit muffins in a zip-lock bag for up to 3 days. I put 2 per sandwich bag, sucked out the air and then put the sandwich bags into a gallon freezer bag and put the extras in the freezer.

*In a previous life, when I lived in a house with steam heat radiators, I used to place my bread dough to rise on a towel on top of a radiator. It worked quite well as long as the heat didn’t get too hot while they were on there!

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 Seed Butter Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are one of the most popular cookies on the planet but not for those of us with nut allergies. If you can use pumpkin seeds, this may be a cookie for you to try. I’ve been using pumpkin seed butter now for several years. It’s a very different taste, very nutty and earthy. I prefer the butter made from roasted pumpkin seeds but raw is also available; as one might expect, the roasted is brown while the raw is green in color. I haven’t been able to find pumpkin seed butter in a store so I order it online from Amazon where they have several varieties available. I’m sure a google search would find it available elsewhere online if you prefer not to use Amazon.

Just like regular peanut butter, pumpkin seed butter is available in sweetened and unsweetened forms. I prefer the unsweetened which is what is used in this recipe. If sweetened is used, reduce the amount of sugar in the mixture. Makes about 12 cookies.

You’ll need:

1/2 cup date sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup pumpkin seed butter (room temperature)

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4-1/3 cup carob chips (or if you can use them chocolate chips)

Prepare a medium size cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper sprayed with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium size bowl, mix together the date sugar and the water, stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla, whisk until smooth. Add the pumpkin seed butter, flaxseed, flour, salt and mix until combined. Add the chips and blend. Scoop out the dough by tablespoons and shape into balls and then flatten. Place about an inch apart on the cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. These cookies won’t raise or spread much. Store in an airtight container or freeze if there are any left!