Pumpkin Sticky Cinnamon Buns

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

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

2 teaspoons yeast

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

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

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

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

1/2 cup oat flour

1/3 cup brown rice flour

6 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 3/4 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

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

3 tablespoons avocado oil

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

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

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

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

4 tablespoons vegan margarine or avocado oil

6 tablespoons date sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

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

1/2 cup agave nectar (or coconut nectar)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup honey

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

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

6 tablespoons vegan margarine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Pour the glaze over the buns before serving.

Chicken Canzanese

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

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

1 teaspoon olive oil

Add:

1 ounce prosciutto cut into 1/4 inch cubes*

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

3 teaspoons chopped garlic

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

4-5 chicken thighs, skin on

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

1 teaspoon olive oil

the 4-5 chicken thighs, skin side down

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

2 tablespoon all purpose gluten-free flour

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

2 cups of chicken stock

drizzle of rice vinegar (about 1/4 teaspoon)

drizzle of honey (about 1/2 teaspoon)

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

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

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

2 bay leaves

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

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

1 tablespoon vegan margarine

1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

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

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

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

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

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

First, in a 8-10 cup bowl combine:

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

1 tablespoon date sugar

1 teaspoon guar gum (or xanthan gum)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

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

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

1 cup warm water (see above)

1 teaspoon date sugar

1/2 cup of the flour mixture above

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

After the yeast has doubled in size add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

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

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

2 tablespoons olive oil

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

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

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

Pork Chops with Pear Sauce and Sautéed Endive

Mostly I eat chicken but occasionally I’ve have some pork and I find it difficult to find creative ways to cook it, a plain pork chop can be so boring. Here’s one I adjusted from one I found online. I added the endive which goes great with both the pork chop and the pear sauce.

First, make a batch of pear sauce (see recipe under sauces) except instead of adding the ginger, add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of allspice (per cup of pear sauce/about 1 pear). Additionally, add about 1 tablespoon of date syrup (or 2 teaspoons of honey or agave nectar).

In a 10″ skillet, heat over medium high:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Blot dry:

2 1″ thick pork chops (or a little thinner or thicker if preferred just adjust the cooking time)

Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (granulated works best). Add to the hot oil and sear on each side (about 1-2 minutes per side) then reduce heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, for about 5-6 minutes per side or until the pork is firm to the touch. Set aside and let sit off the heat for approximately 10 minutes to rest.

While the pork rests, heat in 12″ skillet over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2 medium sweet onion, dice

6-8 medium to large endive (slice off the lower stem end and then quarter)

Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder then cook stirring occasionally so that the onion doesn’t burn. After about 3-4 minutes, reduce heat to medium low and cover so that the lower cores of the endive soften and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes or until the endive cores are softened.

If you’ve premade the pear sauce as I did, heat in a small pot until hot. Pour half the mixture (about 1/2 cup) over each pork chop. Serves 2.

Easy Moroccan Chicken

I’m reposting this recipe that I original developed in 2020 because I have some additional tips for you about it that I thought made it so much more scrumptious. Many of us can’t (and shouldn’t) eat corn. I know because I’m one. But I grew up eating corn and I do so love it. Especially when it’s corn season, like it is right now. I happened to get to the market this morning right after they’d put out a fresh batch of local corn.

If you don’t know when corn is fresh, here’s what to look for: check that the tassels are still moist or at least still have some green to them and are not turned completely brown and that the stem end is still green. If the stem end is brown, the corn is old and will have lost much of it’s flavor. Also don’t husk the corn until you’re ready to put it in the pot! A definite no no. And always steam corn, it should never be boiled.

My mother was a great admirer of Craig Claiborne, the food critic for the New York Times in the 1970s. When he published a cookbook, she had to have it. About a week later, she found a recipe in it for corn in which he said corn should be boiled. She slammed the book shut, said the man was an idiot and never read anything else he ever wrote.

Having grown up on a farm where my father wouldn’t eat corn unless he went out and picked it, husked it and brought it to my mother who had the steamer all set to cook it. And the bushels of corn that we’d blanch and cut off the cobs in September to freeze for the winter. My, it was a two-day affair.

So please, another tip, never reheat or cook corn in water. If you have frozen corn off the cob, it should be simmered in milk (such as oat milk) and some fat (of course my mother always used butter!). Corn has a milky base, not a watery one so cooking it in milk enhances the flavor.

So, today, even though I knew better, I added corn to this recipe. And of my goodness, it was so delicious and I suffered so desperately all afternoon after I ate it but the enjoyment and flavor was worth the few bad hours afterwards. Here’s the amended recipe, feel free to omit the corn if you can’t eat it.

You’ll need:

4 chicken thighs (I tried using a breast and it was tough)

1 cup salsa – use whatever salsa your family prefers, mild, medium, hot or spicy, doesn’t matter

Approximately 3/4 cup of freshly cooked corn cut from the cob (I used only 1 ear)

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon garam masala or coriander

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce [optional]

1/2 teaspoon salt or herbamare

Spray a 9×9″ pan with cooking spray. Mix the salsa, honey and spices together (I use a small whisk) and put a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the thighs on top and then spread the remaining salsa mix on each thigh. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30-45 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken thighs.

It’s that easy! You can serve it with brown rice to sop up all the wonderful flavors of the salsa.

PS: I gave the rest of the corn to my grandson so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it myself!

White Fish with Lemon Garlic Sauce on Sautéed Bok Choy

Any white fish will work with this recipe – cod, flounder, sole, swordfish or even sea bass (my very favorite fish!). The most difficult part of the whole recipe is roasting the garlic and that’s really very easy in the oven. If you’re not familiar with the process, here are the instructions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Peel most of the paper off the outside of the head of garlic being careful to leave the head intact. If a faster process is desired, the cloves can be separated and baked individually, it takes about half the baking time of doing a whole head. With kitchen scissors, trim about 1/4 inch off the top of the head, or each individual clove. Drizzle with 1 or 2 teaspoons olive oil per head. Wrap in parchment paper and bake for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the heads (or 15-20 if doing individual cloves). Cool then press the bottom of each clove to squeeze out the garlic. Stores in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months. Be sure to open windows or turn on the stove vent because the kitchen, and whole house if you have a small house, will be filled with the aroma of roasted garlic.

For each pound of fish, preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare a baking dish large enough to accommodate the fish without crowding. Spray with non-stick cooking spray or coat with olive oil. Dry the fish with paper towels, salt and pepper to taste and arrange in the dish. Bake, depending on thickness, 15-35 minutes, until fish is flaky but still moist. Fish turns quite white in color when it’s cooked.

Want to make it vegan? Use firm tofu in place of the fish but fry it in a skillet instead of baking.

Make the lemon garlic sauce. In a small bowl, mix together:

1/2 teaspoon mashed roasted garlic (about 1 clove)

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise*

salt and pepper to taste

Set aside and prepare the bok choy. In a large 12″ skillet, heat over medium:

1 teaspoon olive oil, then add:

1 small onion diced

6-8 baby bok choy, cleaned and cut in half or quarters

1 teaspoon minced garlic (or some of the roasted garlic)

Cook, stirring for the first few minutes, then reduce heat to medium low and cook 5-7 minutes until the onion and bok choy are softened.

Place the sautéed bok choy in the bottom of a serving dish, add a serving of the fish. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of sauce over each fish, garnish with scallions, chives or dill (chopped). Serves 4.

*Don’t have any vegan mayonnaise? See my recipe under sauces for egg-free mayonnaise.

Ratatouille Lasagna

Here’s another recipe for a ratatouille dish that’s scrumptious! This idea comes from Vegan Cocette. I don’t generally make lasagna, too many steps and too much time but this one is fairly easy and not everything has to be made at the same time. Some things can be made ahead of time and then just assembled which takes very little time. First make the ratatouille, then the béchamel sauce, (Italian sauce if used) and lastly cook the noodles, gluten-free of course. If you don’t want the carbs from the brown rice lasagna noodles, I found one made from hearts of palm at Whole Foods (Whole Foods brand) which has very few carbs and calories. Several other noodle types are also available. Italian sausage can be added to either the ratatouille or the béchamel if desired. This makes a very large pan so choose a baking dish that holds at least 3 quarts and is 5-6 inches deep. I don’t need to serve 8 so I made it in smaller dishes and I froze some (uncooked, covered with plastic wrap and foil).

First make the ratatouille.

Peel and slice:

1 large or 2 small eggplants

On either a paper towel or a cooling rack, place the slices of eggplant and generously salt on both sides. Place a cookie sheet or tray on top of the eggplant and weight it down with several large cans. Let sit at least 15 minutes but 1 hour is better. Rinse off the salt and dry thoroughly and cube. In a good size pan, over medium high heat:

1 tablespoons olive oil

When hot (shimmering) add:

1 medium onion, chopped

2 small eggplants, peeled and cubed

2 small zucchini, cubed

2 small yellow squash, cubed

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Optionally, depending on taste can be added:

1 sweet pepper, seeded and diced

6 ounces of sliced mushrooms

Stir to combine, cover and cook over medium low heat until vegetables are slightly softened, about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the pan. Add:

16 ounces crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 tablespoon dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Stir to combine and simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes. While the ratatouille is simmering, make the béchamel sauce. In a medium saucepan, heat over medium:

1/4 cup avocado oil

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Add:

1/3-1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour (enough so it looks like a soupy mashed potato mixture but all the oil is absorbed)

Whisk in the flour and let it cook for 1-2 minutes to cook out the flour taste. Add:

2 1/2-3 cups non-dairy milk (any milk EXCEPT soy)

Cook over medium low heat until thickened, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. When it starts bubbling, reduce heat to low and add:

3/4 cup non-dairy mozzarella or parmesan cheese, grated

Let it cook for about 5-7 minutes while the cheese melts, whisking occasionally, being careful not to let it burn on the bottom so heat may need to be reduced further.

Lastly, cook the noodles in a large pot (8-10 quarts) of boiling water. When the water comes to a boil add:

1 tablespoon salt

10 ounces gluten-free lasagna noodles (the Whole Foods Heart of Palm can be used without cooking)

Cook the pasta per package instructions. Rinse thoroughly with cold water after draining so that the noodles don’t stick together. Then assemble the lasagna by starting with some ratatouille on the bottom of the baking dish which should be at least 5-6 inches in height to accommodate the layers. Second add a single layer of noodles, then a layer of béchamel, layer of noodles, layer of ratatouille, layer of noodles and lastly a layer of béchamel. Place on a baking tray lined with foil and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 35-45 minutes until golden brown on top and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes so that the layers set up before serving. Serves 8.

before baking

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.

Chicken “Divan”

Traditionally Chicken Divan is made with heavy cream, eggs, and broccoli. I can’t eat any of those things so I’ve revised the recipe. I used bok choy and mushrooms for my vegetables but feel free to use broccoli or any other vegetables that your family likes.

In a large skillet, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is hot, over medium heat add:

1 large shallot diced

6 ounces of sliced mushrooms

Let cook for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms are starting to wilt and shallot is turning translucent. Add:

2 cups chopped bok choy including greens (or your vegetable of choice)

Stir in the bok choy along with:

1/4 cup chicken stock

Cover and let steam until bok choy is tender, 3-5 minutes. Remove cover to let the stock reduce. When the stock is basically gone, remove from heat to a separate dish.

In a gallon food storage bag mix:

3 tablespoons gluten-free all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt (or herbamare)

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix together and add:

6-8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken pieces in the flour mixture.

Heat over medium heat in the same skillet:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When shimmering, add the chicken making sure not to overfill the skillet. As the chicken browns, 3-5 minutes, turn and brown on the other side. Remove from heat onto a plate and repeat if needed. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add to the oil:

the dredging flour

If the flour doesn’t combine with all the oil, add more flour until the oil and flour mixture is pasty. Whisk to remove any lumps and over low heat, cook for 2-3 minutes until the flour is slightly browned and cooked. Add:

1 cup chicken stock

Whisk in the stock to remove any lumps. Bring to a simmer and add:

1 cup non-dairy milk (NOT SOY!)

Simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens then add:

4 ounces non-dairy parmesan cheese grated

Whisk to combine and let simmer for several minutes or until the cheese starts to melt. Cut the chicken into large pieces. Add any juices to the sauce.

In a 8×10″ baking dish, arrange the chicken pieces with the vegetable mixture on top. Pour the sauce over the vegetables. Bake for 30-40 minutes , sauce should be bubbling.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes. Serves 4-6.

NOTE: I got my flour a little too brown; you may have a lighter sauce.