Thursday, September 30, 2010

classic banana nut muffins: the safe version

Oh, banana bread, we meet YET again. Take a look through this blog, and you will find that banana muffins and I are good friends.

It's not that I love banana nut bread more than any other treat. It just seems that people frequently pawn off sickly-looking bananas on me. And, being a soft-hearted person, I can't turn these ghastly-looking creatures away. Come into my kitchen, I say, we'll make you pretty again, my triploid friends!

Today, I created my own recipe and it miraculously worked out again. Clearly, the gluten-free baking force is with me lately. Though I love wild and crazy banana bread deviations, this is a return to everything that is classic and lovely about banana bread. Bananas. Honey. Pecans. Except this time, it's gluten and dairy free. Double happy.

(Wheat flour recipe follows)

1/2 cup almond flour *
1/2 cup sorghum flour *
1 cup rice flour *
2 tsp xanthan gum *
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbs cinnamon
2 overly ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter
2 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tbs sugar

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tins.
Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk until the flour is uniform.
In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the bananas, honey, oil, and eggs. (I actually combined mine with an immersion blender; it really helps with the texture of the muffins.)
Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Beat until the mixture becomes thick and uniform. Fold in the chopped pecans.
Divide batter among baking cups and sprinkle with the sugar. Cook for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pan asap to cool.

Monday, September 27, 2010

gluten-free apple cinnamon muffins

I'm jumping on the fall-flavors wagon--even though Texas doesn't really have what most people consider "autumn." Even though we'll continue to experience 90-plus degree weather well into November. To hell with it. Seasons are subjective! And, I'd like to point out, we did have a frigid cold front today...60 degrees this morning and only 85 this afternoon! Oh baby. I'm breaking out the heavy coats. Singin' Frosty the Snowman down here.

All weather aside, when my 8pm sweet craving crept in yesterday night, I wanted something warm and toasty. And I wanted to, at last, completely wing-it on gluten-free baking. It was a deeply gratifying (aka messy and anxiety-causing) experience. But here I stand--light jacket on, apple cinnamon muffins in hand. Today is indeed the day the Lord hath made. Let is rejoice and be glad and eat muffins in it.

Note: I used gala apples, because they're all I had, and they turned out great. However, granny smith is usually my go-to baking apple.


1 egg
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs vanilla
1/3 cup tapioca flour*
1/3 cup brown rice flour*
1/3 cup white sorghum flour*
1 tsp xanthan gum*
1 tbs cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups diced apples

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking cups. Thoroughly combined the wet ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until very well combined.
Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, and stir thoroughly (don't worry about over-mixing.) Then, fold in the diced apples.
Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide the batter into the cups. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes about 10 muffins.

Wheat eaters! To make these muffins "normal," substitute 1 cup of regular flour for all the ingredients with an *asterisk.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

kid pasta with pistachio (cashew) cream sauce

Okay, so I know it ain't pretty. And I know it's on Bob the Builder shaped gluten-free pasta. (Don't judge me...I'm a Gemini with a very active inner child.) But lemme tell you. This "cream" sauce. God. Pistachios. Pasta too. I loved it so much, it's rendered me incapable of forming cohesive sentences.

I was raiding my pantry today, and happened to see some pistachios left over from my good friend, the pistachio pizza. (This itself was a miracle, as I have minimal self control around pistachios.) Then I was surfing Pinch My Salt, and found a recipe for Sicilian pistachio cream pasta. I considered it fate.

Since I'm on the no-dairy wagon, I decided to try my hand at pasta sauces with cashew cream. It was all that I hoped it would be...creamy, rich-tasting, with none of that "ohmygod-i-ate-so-much-pasta-i-hate-my-life" feeling afterwards. And, the flavor and subtle crunch of the pistachios? Muah. I wanna go on a date with this pasta sauce.


1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup pistachios, raw
1/2 cup cashew cream
3/4 cup chicken stock
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a food processor, finely chop the pistachios until they just have a little bit of texture left.

Heat a skillet over med-high with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, throw in the onion and cook until soft. Just when the onion starts to take on a little bit of brown color, toss in the garlic. Cook for another 30 seconds or so.
Then, reduce the heat to medium and toss in the pistachios. Mix together for about 1 minute, until the mixture is paste-like and you can smell the pistachios toasting.
Mix in the cashew cream, then add the chicken stock. Season well with plenty of salt and black pepper. Allow to reduce, stirring frequently, until it is the right consistency for sauce. If the sauce seems too tight, add a little more stock.

Serve with penne, farfalle, or (if you're adventurous) kiddo pasta.
If you're eating gf pasta, get the corn-based kind. It's the best!
Serves 1 with a little leftovers.

basic cashew cream

I know I've covered a version of this before, but I felt the need to simplify further. This little food phenomenon is creamy, nutritious, and virtually taste-free. In other words, it's the perfect substitute for heavy cream in sweet and savory recipes. Here's how I make mine...


2 heaping cups cashews
1 cup water

Put the cashews & water in a bowl, cover, and allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator. When the cashews are soaked, drain off & reserve the excess water, and put the cashews in a food processor or blender. Blend on high, adding a little bit of water at a time, until creamy. This is a very inexact science, and the cashews may require some coercion, but once you've got it you've got it!

This makes about 2 cups of cream.

salted caramel brownies

Remember when we spoke about my sweet & salty tooth? Well, it strikes again. I've been flirting with the idea of making these ever since I had salted caramel ice cream from The Red Trolley in Denver this summer. And, I'm not even going to try to tell you how much I love these, because (clearly) it's a brownie. And when have I ever met a brownie I didn't like? Never, my dear friends. Never. (However, I will say that these are maximally sweet, salty, chocolatey, and gooey all at once.)

I will confess that I didn't make my own caramel for these. I attempted homemade caramel once, several years ago, and it was a deeply traumatic experience. So this time, I left it up to the capable chefs at Central Market. But if you're feeling ambitious, by all means, DIY it.

The only problem I had with this recipe is that the caramel melted into the brownies and wasn't very detectable. So, I've adapted the recipe slightly to accommodate.


1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine
1 1/8 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tbs vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup oat flour (or you can substitute regular flour)
1 cup caramel
1 tbs kosher salt plus some for garnish

Preheat oven to 340 and grease a 9x9 square baking pan.
In a saucepan or in the microwave, melt the butter. Remove from the heat, add in the sugar, and stir until combined. Briefly return to the heat, just until the mixture is hot. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool for a moment (ideally while you prepare everything else.)
Add the cocoa powder and baking powder into the butter mixture. When combined, add the vanilla and eggs. Last, stir in the flour until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the batter into the baking pan. In a small bowl, mix together the caramel and salt. Then, pour the caramel over the top of the brownie batter. Using a knife, slightly swirl the brownie batter with the caramel.
Baking for 22-25 minutes, or until the edges are set. The brownies may look too soupy in the middle at first, but they will set while they cool. Sprinkle some sea salt on the top of the brownies while they cool.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

pistachio pizza with caramelized onions

The inspiration for this pizza came from an episode of the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, which is food porn to the highest degree. Could it be possible that two of my most beloved foods, pistachios and caramelized onions, could be combined on one of the world's most perfect foods, pizza?!

Apparently it is possible. I whipped this up (gloriously quickly, the miracle of pizza) last night with a fellow pistachio-lover. I'm not going to provide measurements for this recipe, because I know you know how to put a pizza together. So I'll leave the degree of sauciness, cheesiness, and pistachio-and-oniony-ness up to your preference.


1 gluten-free pizza crust
1/2 large onion
olive oil
1 tsp sugar
pesto (jarred or fresh)
fresh mozzarella
pistachios (roasted, salted, shelled)
salt & pepper

Slice onions thinly and throw them into a pan with olive oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 tsp salt and the sugar. Cook slowly until caramelized.
Following the instructions on your pizza dough, prepare your pizza crust. When it's ready for toppings, add the pesto & cheese. Cook until the cheese is melty and the crust is golden-brown.
Remove from oven and add desired amount of pistachios and onions on the top. Return the pizza to the oven for 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool, sprinkle with salt & pepper, slice, and serve!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Classic Blueberry Muffins: the explicit version

Ahh. For me, this is one of those foods that makes me all warm and fuzzy with happy memories. My mom used to make these muffins for my brothers and I when we were kids. Sometimes we would eat entire meals composed only of muffins, butter, and milk. And, on another nostalgic note, these were the very first thing I started baking.

Today, a dear friend of mine is having his birthday, and he requested these muffins. Not the safe, gluten-free version, but the sweet, glutenful, sinful version. But, I like to think I'm a good friend. Who am I to deny the muffins? So here's a recipe from my wild, gluten-eating years. Warning: you might shed sweet tears when you eat these. They do that.


1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs cinnamon (this makes the muffins)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 400. Line or grease a muffin tin. In a small bowl, mix together the first 3 wet ingredients. In a large bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients and blueberries. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture. Mix, sparingly, until everything is just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX, you'll get tough muffins. Immediately spoon into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes a dozen muffins, with a little batter-snacking.

In Production: gluten free blueberry muffins

Monday, September 13, 2010

slightly salty honeyed apples

You may have noticed, I have a sweet tooth. Really, I have a whole set of sweet teeth. But, I think somewhere in my jaw lurks a highly specialized sweet & salty tooth. And that's what brings us here...

These apples originally started out as a topping for pancakes. But once again, pancakes and I didn't get along. So, this lovely little topping ended up on coconut milk vanilla ice cream. Hey, can't complain! Never met an ice-cream topping I didn't love.


1 large, tart apple
1 tbs butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Peel, core, and dice the apple into small pieces. Add them into a saucepan with the melted butter, and let those hang out for a few minutes. When the apple has started to brown and soften, add in the honey, salt, and cinnamon. Cook down until well-combined and syrupy, another few minutes. Add over pancakes, oatmeal, ice cream, toast, or just solo!

simple veggie miracle: roasted broccoli

How have I not done this before? I preach (seriously...preach) roasting veggies to every cook I know; yet somehow broccoli has been overlooked. I apologize, broccoli. No surprises here, broccoli is infinitely better when it's roasted. It actually tastes like...broccoli! And it retains its crunch, which is a plus because we all know that limp vegetables are a crime.

I'm never steaming again. Ever.


2 cups frozen or fresh broccoli
2-3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Toss all the ingredients together in a roasting dish or baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli is still slightly crunchy and slightly browned.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

spicy sautéed green peas

Dear green peas,
Why did I spend my whole childhood fearing you? It's true, you're green and suspicious-looking. And yes, we had a very bad time together when I tasted you out of the can. Green peas, it's all in the past now. I love your sweet little green spheres popping in my mouth, like tiny bits of happy. I'm so glad we can be together now, my veggie darling. And this is how I like you best...


2 cups frozen peas (if you can get fresh, more power to ya)
1 tbs (one big clove) of minced garlic
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Add the peas to a skillet with about 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, drain off the water. Add the olive oil and garlic into the pan with the peas. Let the garlic sweat with the peas, stirring frequently, for roughly 1 minute. (If the peas start to get a little char, don't freak out, it's a very good thing. But don't burn the garlic!) Add the crushed red pepper, salt, and black pepper.

This serves about two people, if they're not greedy pea eaters like me. Also, if you're spicy-shy, you might want to hold off on the red pepper.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

banana bread muffins...again

(Due to my forgetfulness and blogger irresponsibility, muffin pictures are not available.)

And so we meet again, overly ripe bananas. For me, banana bread is the only way to deal with those gnarly-looking, bruised babies. Once bananas get past their perfectly yellow, ice-cream worthy prime, banana bread is simply the only way to go.

I must confess, today I got a little overly enthusiastic about my banana bread additives. Since bananas take anything like a man, I often find myself wildly throwing in ingredients ("And a little bit o' this, and a little bit o' that, and now somma THAT!") So today, as I was christening the oven in my new apartments kitchen--keep in mind I can't even open the fridge without hitting the opposite wall--things got out of hand.

Today's banana bread muffins contain oconut, and pecans, and lord knows what else. And they're good. They're not the picture of minimalism or traditionalism in baking, but I must say they're good. If you're looking for yummy, not-too-sweet muffin that represents my sometimes overzealous baking, make these.


3 cups almond flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups mashed, ripe bananas
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs melted butter or oil

Preheat oven to 350 and line muffin tin with liners. In a large bowl, combine all the dry (the first 6) ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients until well-combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Spoon (I use an ice-cream scooper) into muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes before munching.