Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

It’s that time of year again! Time to pull out the gingerbread recipes along with all the pumpkin and spices. Here’s a very easy ginger cookie recipe that takes very little time to throw together and only 10 minutes to bake so in a mere 20 minutes you’ve got cookies – just as quickly as any tube of cookie dough you buy in the grocery store. And oh so delicious!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet by covering with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl combine:

1 tablespoon ground flax

3 tablespoons warm water

Stir to combine and let sit for a minute or two until a gel forms. Add:

1/2 cup pepita butter (or sunflower butter, tahini, etc.)

1/3 cup date sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a hand mixer, mix until fully combined. Add:

3 tablespoons all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Using a spoon, mix in the dry ingredients. This is too thick for the hand mixer. When combined, using a small cookie scoop, place scoops on the prepared baking sheet and flatten. Makes about 15 cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on cooling rack.

Chinese Dumplings

When I worked at Arizona State University, the chair of the department and I shared the same birthday so we’d go out for lunch annually on our birthday. There was a little Chinese restaurant near campus where we’d devour several orders of pot stickers and a soup bowl of hot and sour soup. I’ve been checking every grocery store I go to and I couldn’t find gluten-free wonton wrappers but a check on-line found a recipe. So, although this process is somewhat lengthy, the dumplings are well worth the effort.

First, make the wonton wrappers by combining:

1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/2 white rice flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon guar gum

Whisk together the dry ingredients then stir in:

1/2 cup boiling water

Dough will start to come together. Add:

2 tablespoons cold water

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Stir to combine, kneading with hands if necessary. Form into a ball, cut in half. Place one half under plastic wrap to stay moist while working with the other half. Roll the dough into a log then cut into 12 pieces, about 1 tablespoon each. Roll the pieces into balls and place in a sandwich bag until ready to fill. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Next, make the filling. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse:

8-10 scallion whites

6 ounces shitake mushrooms

1/2 cup shredded carrots

Pulse until well ground. Put into a medium bowl with:

3/4 pound ground turkey (or pork)

3 teaspoons date sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces)

1/2 teaspoon ginger juice (or freshly grated ginger)

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Combine, cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to fill the wontons. Using a bamboo steamer (or a steamer basket or pot but you won’t be able to cook as many at once), place over water on the stove. Take one dough ball, place between two pieces of plastic wrap, and using a small rolling pin (or any can), roll out to about a 3″ circle. Place about 1 tablespoon filling in the middle. Using the plastic wrap, bring the sides of the wonton wrapper together in the middle. Pick up the ball and gently press the edges together to seal the dumpling (these can be either round or rectangular). If the dough is dry, wipe the edges with a small amount of water to moisten and seal. Place in the steamer and repeat until the steamer is filled, without the dumplings touching the edges or each other because they will stick as they cook. Bring the steamer water to a boil and cook the dumplings 10-12 minutes. Serve with a sesame garlic sauce and garnish with the scallion greens.

Sesame Garlic Sauce:

1/4 cup soy sauce substitute

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon date syrup or honey

1/4 teaspoon chili sauce or red pepper flakes

Chicken with Bok Choy and Red Peppers and Crispy Noodle Cake

Here’s another recipe adapted from the Chicken Bible. It’s somewhat spicy due to the abundance of freshly grated ginger as well as just a 1/4 teaspoon Vietnamese chili sauce.* The original recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes so use those if you can’t find a chili sauce that works for your family. I also cut back slightly on the amount of freshly grated ginger – the original recipe called for 1 tablespoon but I used only about 1 teaspoon and it was sufficient for my tastes. This is a recipe that may sound difficult and complex but if you follow the steps, it’s really quite easy to make and oh so worth the effort – just as good as any dish in your favorite Chinese restaurant.

First, cut up everything:

1 pound bok choy (I used three medium sized baby), cut off the stems and cut into bitesize pieces and then separately chop the greens and put them in a separate bowl

2 small sweet red peppers, cut in thin slices

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced as thinly as possible (if the breasts are partially frozen, they will slice much easier although the hand holding the meat will get quite chilly!)

1 garlic clove minced

about 1″ of fresh ginger peeled and grated to produce roughly 1-2 teaspoons

2-3 scallions, slice at an angle, add the white parts to the bok choy stems and peppers and set the greens aside in a medium bowl

Next, mix together in a medium bowl:

1 tablespoon soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon date syrup

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch (or arrowroot)

Whisk together and add the sliced chicken. Mix to ensure all the chicken is coated with the marinade. Refrigerate until needed.

Third, put on a pot of water to boil:

6 quarts water in a large pot

When the water comes to a bowl, add:

1 teaspoon sea salt

9 ounces of noodles (I used brown rice pad Thai noodles)

Cook for only 3 minutes until el dente (or the amount of time on the package of your noodles). Drain and add to the bowl with the green scallion slices. Mix to combine. In a 12″ non-stick skillet, heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Add the noodle/scallion mixture and spread out in the pan. Use a strong spatula (or I used a bacon flattener) to flatten the noodle mixture in the pan (see photo below). Cook 5-7 minutes until browned and then using a large spatula, flip and brown again on the second side 5-7 minutes. Remove to an oven proof plate and stick in a 200 degree oven to keep warm.

Now, in a small bowl mix together:

2 tablespoons olive oil

the minced garlic

the grated ginger

In another small bowl make the sauce by combining:

1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock

2 tablespoons soy sauce substitute

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 tablespoon date syrup

1/4 teaspoon chili sauce or red pepper flakes (or hot sauce!)

1 teaspoon cornstarch (or arrowroot)

Stir to combine. Set aside until needed. Pour into the empty skillet and heat:

2 teaspoons olive oil

Add:

sliced chicken (and marinade)

Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly and turning frequently until the meat is cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove to a dish and set aside. Into the same skillet heat over medium heat:

the olive oil mixture with the garlic and ginger

When hot, add:

the bok choy stems

red pepper slices

scallion whites

Cook over medium high heat stirring frequently until they just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add:

the bok choy greens

Cook just until the greens begin to wilt, add the cooked chicken along with any juice in the dish. Whisk the sauce mixture to be sure it’s still combined and pour over the chicken in the skillet. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens about 30 seconds and the chicken is reheated. Remove the noodle cake from the oven and cut into wedges. Serves 2.

*I had a lot of difficulty finding a chili sauce that didn’t contain either sugar or soy. I finally located one (at the 4th store I checked!) – Tuong Ot Toi Viet-Nam Chili Garlic Sauce. It’s VERY hot so the amount used should be to the level of your taste buds. I don’t mind spicy but super hot is not to my liking therefore the recipe calls for just 1/4 teaspoon.

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.

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.

String Beans and Mushrooms with Garlic Sauce

Far easier to make than eggplant with garlic sauce, string beans with garlic sauce is a much more commonly found Chinese dish. It’s just as tasty, sweet and tangy but since the string beans are not deep fried, don’t need to be salted and let sit to lose their bitterness, or dredged in corn starch, the dish is so easy to construct, taking just minutes. Pre-steaming the beans or using frozen ones makes it even quicker to prepare. Many vegetables lend themselves to this process – broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

First prepare the beans by steaming or thawing them – any color string beans works equally well:

1 pound fresh or frozen string beans (I used yellow [or wax as my father always called them])

Remove the stems and steam for approximately 3-5 minutes until starting to tenderize but still have a bite, like al dente pasta. In a 12″ skillet, over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When the oil is shimmering hot, add:

6 ounces mushrooms

Sauté the mushrooms until lightly browned and tender. Add the string beans and remove from heat. In a small saucepan (2 cup size), heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When hot add:

1 small shallot, minced

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 small can mild green chilis

Cook until the shallot softens before adding:

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 cup soy sauce substitute

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon date syrup

Stir to combine. Make a slurry of:

2 teaspoons corn starch or arrowroot

1 tablespoon water

Add to the sauce and stir until the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low and let cook for 5-7 minutes. Add to the string beans and mushrooms and reheat the vegetables over low heat for 1-2 minutes. Garnish with scallion greens and serve.*

*I actually only used half the garlic sauce so put the other half into a 1 cup jelly jar and stuck it in the freezer for the next time I need it.

Ginger Chicken with Bok Choy

Here’s another revamped recipe from the chicken bible; if you like Chinese food as much as I do, you’ll love this one. Tangy, slightly sweet sauce, succulent chicken, and just tender bok choy add up to a savory recipe for the entire family. And I thought it was as good as anything I might order at a restaurant. Follow the steps, get the chicken and bok choy chopped, fresh ginger grated before starting and it’s a quick, easy dish to make. I sliced the chicken and put it in the marinade before chopping and grating first so it could sit and tenderize while I did everything else. FYI, want to make it vegan, use firm tofu slices instead of chicken. This dish would also be good with pork, some mushroom, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, etc. The sauce would be great with any number of vegetable/meat mixtures. Serves 4.

First mix the marinade for the chicken in a medium size bowl (at least 4 cups):

3 tablespoons soy sauce substitute*

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon date syrup

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

Whisk together and set aside. Cut up:

2 large or 4 small chicken breasts (around 1 pound of chicken)

Slice as thinly as possible. TIP: Freeze the breasts for 15 minutes before cutting to make them easier to slice. Mix the sliced chicken into the marinade and let sit while preparing the remaining ingredients.

In a small dish, combine:

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix the ginger mixture well and set aside. In another bowl (at least 1 cup), combine for the sauce:

1/4 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon date syrup

3 tablespoon soy sauce substitute

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes *(Optional)*

Whisk the sauce together and set aside.

Wash and prepare:

1 pound bok coy

Cut off root bottom and thoroughly wash stems and leaves. Remove as much of the green as possible while leaving the tougher white stems and branches. Slice the stems into 1/2″ pieces and set aside. Chop the greens roughly and set aside in a separate bowl. (The greens cook very quickly and will be added separately from the stems.)

Now we cook; and this is the quickest part of this recipe, only about 10 minutes until the dish is ready to serve so if cooking rice to go with the dish, put it on before you start preparing the ingredients. First, in a 12″ skillet, over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is shimmering hot, add:

1/2 the chicken slices

Add the chicken pieces but not the marinade (there’s won’t be much of the marinade left in the bowl anyway). Stir the chicken constantly as it cooks through. This should only take about a minute depending on how thinly it was sliced. If the slices are more than about 1/8″, it may take a little longer. Remove to a separate dish and cover. Repeat the process with the remainder of the chicken.

Into the now empty skillet, over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When shimmering hot, add:

Bok choy stem slices

I jar, drained, banana pepper slices

Cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until bok choy is softened slightly and starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Push vegetables to the edges of the skillet and add:

the ginger/garlic mixture

Stir for roughly 30 seconds in the bottom of the pan until fragrant. Add:

bok choy greens

Stir to combine the bok choy, greens, and ginger mixture and cook approximately 30 seconds until the greens are slightly wilted. Add the chicken back into the pan along with any juices and then add:

the sauce mixture

With the heat at medium high, stir constantly until the sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. Garnish with sesame seeds and/or scallion greens. Serve.

*If like me you are not only allergic to soy but also can’t use coconut, Whole Foods has started carrying a line of soy and coconut free sauces made by Ocean’s Halo. They have many of the same ingredients as my soy sauce substitute but also include cane sugar.

Oriental Pork and Vegetables

I’d intended to make pork with eggplant but . . . I used all the eggplant in the eggplant with garlic sauce yesterday! So instead here’s pork and vegetables. As in many of my recipes, feel free to substitute the vegetables for whatever ones your family prefers, eggplant would be great. Makes 4 generous servings.

Ingredients for sauce:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced (or grated) fresh ginger (adjust to your family’s taste)

1 small can diced chilis (I used mild but whatever heat level your family enjoys is fine)

1/2 cup soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces and condiments)

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon corn or tapioca starch (or arrowroot) dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

Ingredients for the pork and vegetables:

2 tablespoons olive oil

16 ounces pork, diced

2 tablespoons corn or tapioca starch

2-3 baby bok choy, cleaned and chopped

1 medium onion sliced thinly

1/2 grated carrots (or 2 large carrots cut on the bias)

1 medium yellow pepper, seeded and cubed

1 small can sliced water chestnuts

First, put the pork cubes into a gallon food storage bag with the 2 tablespoons of corn or tapioca starch. Shake to coat the cubes, making sure all the pork gets some starch, and set aside for 15-20 minutes (I’ve left it overnight and it worked fine).

In a large skillet, heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot, add the pork cubes and fry, turning frequently to brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove cubes from the pan and set aside covered (they will continue cooking). Add the vegetables to the pan and cook over medium heat until they start to soften but still have some crunch, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the pork.

In a small saucepan or skillet, heat the 1/2 tablespoon oil then add the garlic, ginger, chilis (drained) over medium heat. After about 1-2 minutes, add the soy sauce substitute, fish sauce and sesame oil. Cook until it comes to a boil, about 1 minute and then add the slurry of corn/tapioca starch and water. Stir to combine and continue stirring until thickened, should be almost immediately. Remove from heat and pour over the vegetables and pork. Stir to combine and plate, garnishing with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with brown rice (or white rice if preferred).

Eggplant with Garlic Sauce

I know, another eggplant recipe! I can’t help myself, it’s so good right now. My local grocery has such fresh ones on hand, I just have to buy them. This recipe traditionally should be made with Japanese eggplants but they are hard to find. I used to get them at the farmers’ market when I lived in Massachusetts, haven’t found them here in Minneapolis as yet. So I used the common oval eggplants. Look for ones that are narrower, they’ll have fewer seeds and be a little less bitter. Also make sure when purchasing eggplants, that the stems are still green and the eggplant is firm to the touch. And always buy the ones with the inward flower end rather than ones with an outward end, they will also be less bitter.

Because this recipe was made using 2 oval eggplants rather than the Japanese, the proportions will be different if you happen to find the long, skinny kind. So double the eggplants needed if you strike it lucky and are able to use the Japanese. They also won’t need to be peeled!

First, peel and cut into bite size pieces:

2 oval eggplants, medium sized (about 6 cups of meat altogether before salting)

Place them in a large bowl and sprinkle with:

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sea salt

Mix thoroughly and set aside for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer is better. After they have sat, rinse thoroughly with water to remove the salt and then dry as thoroughly as possible with paper towels (or a clean kitchen towel). It’s not possible to remove all the water from eggplant since the meat acts like a sponge with any moisture. When dry, toss with:

1 tablespoon corn starch (or tapioca starch)

Mix thoroughly and then repeat with a second tablespoon of starch.

Heat in a large skillet (or griddle if you have one):

1/4 cup olive oil

When shimmering add the eggplant and cook on medium high heat for about 2-3 minutes until browned then turn to brown the other side, cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove pieces as they are browned and set aside. When all the pieces are well browned, and crunchy, and the skillet is empty, make the sauce.

In a medium skillet heat over medium:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When hot add:

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped white scallions (slice the greens for garnish)

1 teaspoon minced green chilis

Cook for a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add:

1/2 cup soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces and condiments)

1/4 cup water

Stir to distribute and let cook for a minute or two while making a slurry with:

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon corn or tapioca starch (or arrowroot)

Add slurry to the skillet, stirring constantly until sauce is thick. Stir in the eggplant chunks. Remove to a serving plate and garnish with the greens from the scallions and some white sesame seeds. Makes 4 servings.

TIP: Add some diced chicken, beef, pork, tofu, etc., to make this a complete meal.

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.