Tuscan Sunset gnocchi (GF, vegan)

No long story about this recipe. Just know this:

  1. It was ready in roughly 10 minutes.
  2. My son ate it. My picky, I-hate-food 5-year-old asked for some and ate every bite.
  3. I am totally guessing at the measurements below; I eyeballed everything according to taste. This is a really forgiving recipe. Start with a little, and add more if you want.
  4. You can add parmesan if you want, but I promise you won’t miss it if you don’t. My son didn’t even ask for any, and he puts parmesan on almost everything.

 

Tuscan Sunset gnocchi

serves two adults, or one really hungry one

2 cups gluten-free gnocchi
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
2-3 teaspoons Penzeys Tuscan Sunset seasoning (or your favorite Italian seasoning)
2-3 Tablespoons red cooking wine
1 cup marinara of your choice

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic and gnocchi, stirring frequently, until the garlic is lightly brown and the gnocchi is soft. Sprinkle the gnocchi liberally with Tuscan Sunset and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add the cooking wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. Heat the marinara (I do mine in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for 1-2 minutes). Arrange the gnocchi in a single layer on serving plates and drizzle generously with marinara.

Vegan cream of celery soup

Not many people understand my relationship with celery. Most people view it as a garnish at best, or a tool with which to eat dip, cream cheese, and nut butters. Others view it as merely a mirepoix component. But I am a celery fan. When I realized that all those recipes calling for cream-of-something soup could just as easily be made with celery as mushroom, cheese, or tomato, it revolutionized my cooking. Because I immediately set out to make my own soup and freeze it — it tastes less like the can that way.

As a single woman dating/cohabitating with a string of men who do not share her enthusiasm for celery, I learned quickly that recipes like cream of celery soup are great ways to use up all that celery that was otherwise going to go limp on me. I would use some right away and freeze the rest in small containers for inclusion in casseroles and such.

Want a fast, easy dinner that tastes fussier than it really is? Mix about a cup of cream of celery soup with 4-6 cups of cooked rice (depending on the size of your crowd and your sauciness preferences), the veggie(s) of your choice, and herbs to taste (dill is great in this); heat through and serve.

One of the things I missed most about going GF vegan was cream of celery soup. It’s a great base for casseroles, sauces, soups, dips. It freezes and thaws beautifully. And it enhances the flavor of pretty much everything. But now I have figured out a way to make it that’s every bit as good as the standard kind. Let the fight over freezer space begin.

 

Vegan cream of celery soup

5 cups celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
6 tablespoons plant-based butter
2/3 cup potato flour
2 cups veggie broth
2 cups plant-based milk

Heat the butter over medium heat and saute the celery and onion until soft and fragrant. Sprinkle with the potato flour and stir until well coated but not brown. Stir in the veggie broth, a little at a time, stirring after each addition until thickened. Stir in the milk and cook until thick and creamy. Remove from heat and process using a food processor, a blender, or an immersion blender until smooth. Portion into 8- to 10-oz freezer safe containers and freeze solid.

Vegan chocolate buttercream

“I don’t mean to sound mean, but this is a little dry,” my daughter says of the gluten-free cake I made for our first Houseversary.

She may watch a little too much Nailed It.

My feelings aren’t hurt; it was a mix. It’s also the first proper cake to pass these lips in nearly two years, so I’m not exactly picky at this point.

“It’s gluten free,” I remind her. “Set the bar lower.” She’s not wrong, though. On Day 1, it’s a tad dry. By the third day, it’s Sahara dry. By its last day, Day 4, we’re scraping the frosting off and leaving the cake.

Gluten-free cake is just not cake. (Prove me wrong. Please!) But this buttercream? This buttercream I could eat with a spoon, and I am not a fan of frosting.

Note: Where most recipes call for vanilla extract, mine calls for whiskey. It’s because I have not successfully reintroduced vanilla after my elimination diet. My dad gave me an airplane bottle of Crown Royal when I was making sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving (he received it as a gift, but he doesn’t drink), and I’ve found that it blends seamlessly in almost all recipes that call for vanilla. You cannot taste it in this frosting. But if you’d rather use vanilla, feel free.

 

Vegan chocolate buttercream

3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 teaspoons espresso powder (use less for a rich chocolate flavor, more for a mocha flavor)
1/3 cup plant-based butter (I like Country Crock’s avocado butter)
2 teaspoons whiskey
3 oz melted unsweetened baking chocolate, cooled
3 to 4 tablespoons plant-based milk (I like almond milk in this)

Beat powdered sugar, powdered espresso, and vegan butter with an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Stir in whiskey and chocolate. Slowly beat in milk, a few drops at a time, until frosting becomes smooth and spreadable. If frosting becomes too thin, add a little more powdered sugar. Frosts one 13 x 9-inch cake or two 9-inch layers.

Easy lentil casserole

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while. And this one’s a great one — fast, easy, and almost entirely hands off. Perfect for me these days.

Recipes for Fox Point seasoning are available online if you don’t have any, or you can substitute 1 teaspoon of the seasoning of your choice plus 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and half an onion, chopped.

 

Easy lentil casserole

4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup lentils
3/4 cup rice
1 carrot, chopped fine
1 stalk celery, chopped fine
2 teaspoons Penzeys Fox Point seasoning

Stir all ingredients in a large casserole (I use 2.5 quarts). Microwave uncovered on high for 10 minutes. Do not stir. Microwave uncovered on medium low (30% power) for 15 minutes more. Fluff with fork and serve.

 

Simple mango milkshake

I was going to take a photo of the milkshake for this post, but Kai drank it all before I got the chance.

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Luckily, I got a second chance: Anya asked for one the next day. This time I managed to snap a couple of photos (of which the top photo is one) before Kai reclaimed his cup.

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The kids are avid Coraline fans, so I have created various versions of her mango milkshake for them. Usually the shakes involve bananas — we almost always have some bananas on the brink — and I make extra so I can freeze some in popsicle sleeves for healthyish snacks. But I was in a hurry and also out of bananas, so I whipped this up for Kai. He declared it delicious and told me I am a good mommy, so it must have been good.

This recipe makes a small (8 ounces) milkshake; feel free to double (or triple!) the ingredients if you are not a little boy.

 

Simple mango milkshake

1/3 cup good quality vanilla ice cream
1/3-1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1/3 cup orange juice, or to taste

Blend ingredients together until smooth.

Mama’s magic go juice

A recipe! I know — it’s been a while. I’m still fumbling with these food sensitivities. I think I have this smoothie down, though. Nothing in it sets off my stomach, and it keeps me full for hours. I can eat and work and not worry about crumbs in the keyboard. Plus I get my fruit without having to, well, chew it.

 

Mama’s magic go juice

1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 tablespoons flax seeds
1 scoop pea protein powder (I like JustPea)
2 teaspoons sugar
10 strawberries (I like mine frozen)
1-2 cups cranberry juice, to desired consistency

Blend the oil, seeds, protein powder, sugar, and a little bit of the juice together until smooth. Add the strawberries and 1 cup of the juice and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add more juice.

Insert straw. Drink. Get stuff done.

Blank slate hummus (GF, vegan)

(Yes, that bruise on my thumb is taking its sweet time growing out.)

Hummus, how I have missed you.

I’m still waiting on my lab results, but in the meantime my nutritionist suggested I try homemade hummus so I could be sure it didn’t contain anything that might trigger me. This is that hummus. It’s quick and easy, bland enough for my stomach yet tasty enough that Kai and I wolf it down. (Anya says it needs salt.)

I still haven’t determined if I can handle even this hummus. I was okay the first day, but on subsequent days I became incredibly uncomfortable after eating it. I’m hoping I was simply combining it with the wrong foods, because this stuff is delicious. I will be very sad if I can’t have it anymore.

If you prefer hummus with more pizzazz, you could tweak this pretty much any way you choose — none of the flavors are so strong that they will overwhelm or even compete with whatever extras you add.

But first, the basics.

 

Blank slate hummus

1 can chickpeas, drained (rinsed well for low FODMAP)
4 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water

Puree the chickpeas in a food processor until smooth. Add the tahini, cumin, paprika, and salt and process until well combined. Scrape down the bowl, then add the lemon juice and olive oil and process until smooth. Scrape down the bowl again, then add the water a little at a time, processing after each addition, until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.

Dark chocolate gingersnap bark

I adapted this recipe from one I found in an ebook from Sue at The View from Great Island; in a holiday season bereft of all my favorite goodies, Sue’s chocolate bark inspiration was most welcome. Amidst much experimentation, I came up with two new favorites: Peppermint bark (recipe to come) and this ginger chocolate bark.

Sue’s version of this recipe uses white chocolate. And it was wonderful. I had divvied the recipe between my daughter’s teacher (who loved it) and my Dirty Santa gift for the office party…only the kids got sick and we weren’t able to make the office party, so I consoled myself by eating the bark myself. In a single sitting. Dirty Santa indeed.

So I’m not saying that the recipe required modification. However, one of my favorite recipes last year was a chocolate gingerbread cookie that I was really looking forward to this year, until this whole gluten-free nonsense knocked those plans into a cocked hat. So I decided to try Sue’s recipe with dark chocolate.

It did not disappoint. My 3-year-old son got into the container while I was taking a shower and ate half the batch. Little stinker.

This batch came out really chunky. I’d planned on making another batch and using fewer cookies in it, but it tastes so good with all that ginger that I’ve decided to let this version ride. This is not a smooth, thin chocolate bark. The texture is closer to that of a no-bake cookie. But the texture and flavor is way better than any no-bake cookie I have ever had. If it’s too much for you, you can always save half the cookies for another batch.

 

Dark chocolate gingersnap bark

7 oz. thin ginger cookies (I use Tate’s Bake Shop Gluten Free Ginger Zinger)
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (I like Kroger’s Private Selection brand)
1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Crush cookies using a food processor; if you do not have a food processor, place the cookies in a bag (the bag they come in works great — just remove the plastic trays first!), seal, and crush with a rolling pin. A few large-ish chunks are fine, but you want it to be mostly crumbs. Set aside.

Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and warm for 1 minute on high. Stir well, returning to the microwave in 15-second bursts as needed until the chips are melted and smooth. Stir in the cinnamon. Fold in the cookie crumbs, reserving 2 tablespoons for topping, and mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture on the parchment-lined pan and spread with a spatula or spoon until it is 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Sprinkle with the reserved cookie crumbs and press them lightly into the chocolate with the back of a spoon. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes or until the chocolate is firm and no longer glossy. Break into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Homemade peanut butter

Pre-children, I used to make my own peanut butter. I was trying to eat a more natural diet, for different reasons (endometriosis) than I am now. I ate a peanut butter sandwich every day for lunch, so it was important to me that the peanut butter be good. I like my PB a little sweet, a little salty, and smooth as silk. I made several palatable peanut butters, varying the type of peanuts, the amount of salt, the sweetener, and the amount of oil, but nothing that met this description. But what I made was workable, and the satisfaction I derived from eating my homemade peanut butter on my homemade bread more than made up for the disappointment I felt at the output.

Then I had kids and my standards for food were reduced to “quick and easy.” I had been making peanut butter in the blender. There’s nothing quick or easy about that.

But now I have a food processor. I made this peanut butter while sitting across the room working. That’s actually easier than buying peanut butter; I’d have to put on shoes and a coat and leave the house to buy peanut butter.

You can tweak this recipe to suit your tastes. If you can have it, honey blends beautifully with the butter and adds a wonderful flavor. Like a saltier peanut butter? Add some salt. If this version’s too dry for you, add a little peanut oil. Mix, taste, tweak, and repeat until it’s to your liking.

 

Homemade peanut butter

2 cups salted cocktail peanuts
2 teaspoons white sugar, or to taste

Place all ingredients in the food processor and run for 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy.

The Christmas cookies that weren’t

I had hoped to have a cookie recipe to post today, but they’re not quite right yet.

If wheat flour doesn’t give you trouble, go try these cookies. They’re quick and easy, and the flavor is amazing. If you were in the Memphis area in the late 80s and early 90s, you may remember a coffee place in the Hickory Ridge Mall. I’ve long since forgotten the name, and the internet is of no help, but their cappuccinos were heavenly: delicately sweet coffee topped with whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a cookie. These cookies taste just like those cappuccinos.

Unfortunately, I can’t handle wheat flour. So I’ve been trying to adapt the cappuccino cookie recipe to my current gluten-free requirements. The first batch was…sandy. The second, in which I used a more traditional shortbread recipe, was gritty. The frosting helped somewhat, but crisp shortbread and creamy frosting don’t really mesh. So I’m left watching my kids eat the gingerbread and asking them to tell me how good it is.

Sigh.

Today I’m going to make up mini pot pies for me and the kids (GF for me, regular for them), so tomorrow after presents we can just pop them in the oven. (R and my parents are going to have ham. Which they will just pop in the oven. Nobody wants to cook tomorrow.) I’m also going to try a GF, egg-free version of The Pie Folks’ Slap Yo Mama pie. Wish me luck! If it works, I will post what I did. If not, I’ll just have some more of my sandy coffee cookies for dessert.

I’m still planning an update post, but today I have to clean the whole house, make a fridgeful of little pies, and play games with my kids. So the updates will have to wait. Happy merry, everyone.