Friday, March 20, 2009

Apple Carrot Muffins

I realized yesterday as I was baking some tasty allergy friendly chocolate muffins that I have become quite adept at modifying recipes to meet our allergic needs. Just get me in the ballpark, and I can make it work. No, not so much with the southern style cooking that has heaps of cream, butter and eggs. Really, by the time you've made all the changes, the finished result does not even compare to the original. But an average recipe I can modify. I have even learned how to spot the ones that will work well and the ones that will be merely passable. It's a nice change from my starting point 6 years ago, when I was very timid about adapting mainstream recipes. Its good to be confident. Of course, allergy friendly recipes are all over the internet now, ready to be whipped up in any home and enjoyed. So, while confidence is good, it's not as necessary as it used to be.

Case in point- this fabulous recipe. Plucked straight from the pages of a fellow food restricted blogger. With just a teeny bit of adjustment- poof- magnificent muffins for my munchkins!

So, my thanks to Gluten Free Gobsmacked for the recipe, which is divine. The finished result is light and airy with loads of lovely flavor. (And for those of you used to gluten free, egg free cooking- light and airy is a welcome change!) Want the original recipe, the link is in the title.

Now- here it is:

Apple Carrot Muffins

2/3 c sorghum flour
1/3 c tapioca starch/flour
1/4 c flax seed meal
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t sea salt
3/4 t xanthan gum
2/3 c baby carrots
1 lg apple- peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 tsp lemon juice (mix with apple when done chopping)
1/2 c raw sugar
2 EnerG eggs
4 T oil of your choice- I like safflower for baking
1 t cinnamon
2 t vanilla

Process baby carrots in a food processor until chopped fine. Add the apple with lemon juice and process to combine well. (This should make about 1 c.) Transfer to a mixing bowl and add 1/2 c sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well. Sift dry ingredients into separate bowl, stir to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix at low to combine, then high for 2-3 minutes. (The batter kept traveling up the beater for me, so I did scrape it down on occasion. Had I been more awake I might have added a splash of apple juice to thin it out. Though, I'm glad I didn't because the texture was divine.) Spoon into muffin tins and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Enjoy warm or cool.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Baking tidbits

There are so many times that I am cooking and I think "I ought to blog that." The problem being that it is one measly tip easily covered in two sentences (if I stretch it out). I tend to forget about it or decide that it just is not significant enough to share. I am going to try to share more of these tidbits, even though they will be short.

Today, as I was baking a lovely batch of sweet potato muffins, I remembered my failed attempts at traditional streusel type toppings. No butter, no wheat....gritty and flavorless.

Now, I tend to top muffins and coffee cakes with a sprinkle of granola or raw sugar for crunchy topping. Be forewarned that the topping will not be crunchy the next day. Still tasty though.

Also, from someone who makes a lot of muffins: the ice cream scoop is your friend. The handy kind with the lever that releases the ice cream. It perfectly portions muffins and cupcakes, and pushes the batter out of the scoop and into the tin for you. Very handy. And cupcake liners make for easy clean up of the pan, as well as extra freshness protection when freezing. I always freeze a few (if I have any left) for those mornings when we need a quick breakfast to get the eldest to the bus on time.

Not exactly earth shattering wisdom, but there might be a useful tidbit for you somewhere in there.

Happy baking!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dipping Sauces

I know that for kids, ketchup is the king of dipping sauces. It comes to our table at most meals. I'm fine with that. In fact, I'm pretty sure that for my three year old, it actually does count as a vegetable serving. Dinner is just a delivery method for the ketchup!

I like to keep trying to expand their tastes, so I do look for other sauces when shopping. Whether salad dressing, peach chutney, or spaghetti sauce changing it up a bit can make the same old meal seem a bit more interesting. It can also make veggies very fun, meat more magical.

Something I have learned is that jelly makes a nice base for sauces. We use the all fruit kind, so there is no guilt about extra sugar, and it is possible to boost fruit consumption just a bit. We like that.

How to start? Spoon a few tablespoons of jelly into a small bowl. Think about your entree, and add a pinch of complimentary spices. Now, thin it out a bit with broth, vinegar, water, juice, you name it. (Vinegar adds a bit of tang, broth just mellows the sweetness, and juice maintains the sweetness.) Microwave for a few seconds to melt the jelly, and stir to combine. Voila! A sauce that has just enough of a familiar taste to entice the kids to try more than one bite, and enough of a change to keep mom feeling creative.

As an example, tonight we had pan seared pork chops. I wanted a sauce with a bit more sophistication than ketchup for myself. Out comes the Apricot fruit spread. Add a splash of red wine vinegar for tang, a splash of water for consistency, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of sage. Result? Sweet and tangy apricot sauce that all three girls enjoyed, and a mama who felt good about dipping as well.

Be creative, have fun. And it's only a few tablespoons, so don't be afraid to call it a loss and dig out the ketchup if it doesn't work out.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Introducing Donuts

So, my allergic kiddo has asked many times if we can have donuts. Always while we are out and about. And I always smile and say "Not that kind. We'll have to find a recipe to try at home." And then I promptly forget. The next time, I have enormous guilt that I have forgotten, but the reply is the same, with greater resolve to remember this. Sigh.

I finally remembered. I searched the web, and found a recipe worth trying. (Click the title to see the original recipe.) I picked a nice relaxed Saturday morning, knowing that the kiddos had a morning snack to hold them over till breakfast was ready. It's also nice to know that if they turn out to be a disaster, we will have time to concoct plan B for breakfast.

Whip together donuts. Incredibly easy. Cook and glaze donuts. Incredibly easy. Taste donuts. Oh my! Share donuts? Not so easy. I could eat them all by my little self.

I'm not sure why as parents we take such joy in introducing our children to the indulgences in life. I was beyond thrilled that I had such wonderfully yummy decadently delicious donuts to share with my allergic kiddo. Really. I was so happy that she too could share in this typically tasty childhood treat. Think about it, we look forward to the first time the kids have our favorite foods: ice cream, pizza, chocolate, whatever. How many of us just can't wait to introduce veggies dipped in hummus. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE veggies with hummus. But sharing those treats does not bring the same, well, giddy joy of donuts.

I digress. Time for the big intro. Sit at the table, serve donuts. Tremendous hit. Even my hesitant husband declared them to be fabulous. He was shocked that they were not only gluten free, but soy free also. And somehow, still scrumptious. Not many allergy free treats rate high praise from him, a critic thoroughly planted in the land of traditional ingredients.

So, share this with someone you love today. Here is the recipe as I made it, just a little different from the original.

Cinnamon Mini Donuts

1/3 c raw sugar
1/2 c tapioca starch
1/2 c potato starch (I ran out of tapioca.)
1/2 c sorghum flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c coconut milk (full fat)
1/4 c horchatta (cinnamon rice milk)
1/4 c safflower oil
1 ener-G egg

1 Tbsp melted spectrum shortening
1 Tbsp horchatta
1 c powdered sugar

Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl. Combine wet ingredients in smaller bowl. Slowly add wet to dry while stirring. The batter will be like a thick muffin batter. Heat 1/4" of your choice of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop batter in by the spoonful. (Think donut holes.) Turn after about a minute. Cook another minute. Remove to paper towell. ( I broke the first one open to be sure that it had cooked all the way through.) Drizzle with glaze and enjoy! Crunchy on the outside, chewy and moist on the inside. Tasty all the way through.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lunchbox Advice

OK all you wonderful SAHMs out there. Especially you, the ones with allergic kiddos that you take great care in feeding every day. I know that our days revolve around food. Every mom's does. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, maybe another snack! And with allergies, your mind is never far from food. I know that I stay home with my kiddos. (What a blessing.) And I have always been very proud of the healthy fare served- and consumed- in my house. I really do cook three meals a day. Even if sometimes lunch is just reheated leftovers.

And therein lies the problem. Listen closely now- here it comes... I reheat leftovers.

This is the voice of experience speaking as only hindsight can allow. DON'T REHEAT THE LEFTOVERS!!! Seriously. Now that my allergic kiddo is in school and packing a lunch everyday it is a real dilemma to find healthy options to send with her. As if the allergies weren't limiting enough, she is a picky eater. Great. And. She won't eat many foods cold. Very limiting. If I had it to do again, I'd start serving things cold a lot earlier. It would open up a lot of options for her lunches now, and I could still have the smug satisfaction of knowing my cutie was well nourished. Right now, I settle for fed. I'm working on the rest.

Yes, it is my hot tip for the day. Give it serious thought. And yes, the two still at home sometimes get cold leftovers for lunch now. And they don't even have allergies!